Research Group

  • Dr. William J. Burlingham, Principal Investigator
  • Dr. Hans Sollinger, Co-Investigator


  • University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison, USA


  • Delayed Type Hypersensitivity (DTH) Status and MMF Monotherapy

The lifelong administration of medications that suppress the immune system of the organ transplant recipient can prevent or slow down the rejection process but have debilitating side effects. Most patients who stop taking these drugs entirely lose their transplant and must undergo re-transplantation. However, cancer, infections or toxicity to healthy organs sometimes make it desirable to discontinue one or more of the medications.

Research scientists studying tolerance, the state in which a patient can maintain transplant function for years without any immunosuppressive drug therapy, have found that such individuals make their own immunosuppressive chemicals in response to the donor organ. This phenomenon of self-suppression is revealed by a test called the delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) test. DTH suppression is found uniformly in patients and experimental animals successfully take off all immunosuppressive drugs, and in a proportion (25-40%) of patients still taking one or more immune suppressive drugs.

The significance of this study is that it will determine whether the latter group of patients may be reduced safely from 3 drugs to a single drug (MMF) without a substantially increased risk of rejection. If our hypothesis is incorrect, then the outcome of partial drug withdrawal will be entirely independent on a patient’s DTH status at the time of drug reduction.