Kidney transplant patients are more vulnerable to common bacteria that are generally harmless

Kidney transplant patients are more vulnerable to common bacteria that are generally harmless

Nocardia infection (nocardiosis) is a disorder that affects the lungs, skin, or brain. In otherwise healthy people, this can present as a local infection. However, in people with weakened immune systems, it can spread throughout the body. Nocardia infection is caused by bacteria .

Nocardia is called an "opportunistic" agent because it does not make most of us sick, but those with compromised immune responses, such as patients who have had an organ transplant or cancer treatment, are more vulnerable, according to a new study. .

Nocardia infection

To see how this increased vulnerability affected these patients’ risk of nocardiosis, the researchers used the United States Kidney Data System, a national database that collects, analyzes, and distributes information on end-stage kidney disease in the country. to analyze 203,233 kidney transplants .

For the study, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine , they looked for patients diagnosed with nocardiosis, kidney failure after infection, along with demographics and risk factors.

Those infected tended to be 65 years or older, had a history of transplant rejection and / or failure, and had received the kidney from the most common source of deceased donors rather than a living donor. In 2020, for example, there were 33,310 deceased donor transplants compared to 5,726 living donor transplants .

While the dosage and selection of immunosuppressive medications are often adjusted, some combination of these medications that help prevent the immune system from attacking a transplanted kidney should be taken, as long as the transplanted organ is present and the longer they are taken. those drugs, the increased risk of infection.

Those infected had also been treated with a handful of common immunosuppressive drugs such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus. Those treated with a drug called antithymocyte globulin , which reduces the action of immune system boosters called T cells, and who developed a brain abscess as a result of their nocardia infection, were more likely to have their transplanted organs fail.