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Novel targeted drug delivery systems to minimize systemic immunosuppression in vascularized composite allotransplantation

Taddeo, Adrianoa,b; Tsai, Catherinea,b; Vögelin, Estherb; Rieben, Roberta

Current Opinion in Organ Transplantation: October 2018 - Volume 23 - Issue 5 - p 568–576
doi: 10.1097/MOT.0000000000000564

Purpose of review The long-term adverse effects of immunosuppressive treatment, the high rate of acute rejection and the development of chronic rejection are the main factors preventing a wider clinical application of vascularized composite allotransplantation (VCA). Targeted immunosuppression using innovative drug delivery systems (DDS) may help to overcome these hurdles, increasing therapeutic efficacy while reducing systemic toxicity. This review provides a summary of the recently developed strategies for targeted delivery of immunosuppressive drugs in VCA.

Recent findings Currently, several innovative strategies for targeted immunosuppression have been designed based on the anatomy and function of the target organ. Site-specific DDS have been developed both for directly accessible organs (i.e. skin, eye and lung) and internal organs (i.e. lymph nodes, liver, nervous system, etc.). In preclinical models, DDS designed for sustained, ‘on demand,’ or ‘on cue’ drug release has been shown to promote VCA survival while reducing systemic toxicity. These findings suggest that targeted delivery could increase patient compliance and potentially decrease toxicity in VCA recipients.

Summary Targeted immunosuppression in VCA represents a promising approach for improving patient compliance and graft survival while reducing off-target toxicity, intensity and frequency of acute rejection episodes and risk of chronic rejection.

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aDepartment for BioMedical Research, University of Bern

bDepartment of Plastic and Hand Surgery, Inselspital, Bern University Hospital, Bern, Switzerland

Correspondence to Robert Rieben, PhD, Department for Biomedical Research, University of Bern, Murtenstrasse 50, 3008, Bern, Switzerland. Tel: +41 31 632 96 69; e-mail:

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