New medication options

Mayo Clinic researchers study medications and treatments for people with lung transplants, including new medications (immunosuppressant medications) to keep your body from rejecting your lung transplant.

You'll need to take immunosuppressant medications after your lung transplant for life to prevent rejection. These medications may cause serious side effects, and they may cause you to be more susceptible to infections. Your treatment team will explain your medications and potential side effects. Your doctors will help you manage your immunosuppressant medications, based on your side effects and any signs of rejection.

In the past, people with lung transplants usually have taken corticosteroids (prednisone, others) and other immunosuppressant medications for life to prevent rejection. However, corticosteroids may cause weight gain, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and other side effects and complications.

You may be able to reduce or stop taking corticosteroids at some time after your lung transplant, which may lessen your side effects and complications. You'll still need to take other immunosuppressant medications.

Other immunosuppressant medication options that may be used for people with lung transplants include basiliximab (Simulect), mycophenolate mofetil (CellCept) and azathioprine (Imuran).

Doctors may sometimes prescribe medications called sirolimus (Rapamune) or everolimus (Afinitor) about 3 months after a lung transplant. These drugs may be considered for people who can't tolerate mycophenolate mofetil and azathioprine. These medications will only be used after there has been adequate healing of the airway after transplant.

Doctors may also prescribe sirolimus or everolimus to people experiencing kidney problems due to calcineurin inhibitors — another immunosuppressant. In some cases, people with kidney problems after transplant may be able to reduce or stop taking calcineurin inhibitors if they are taking sirolimus or everolimus, and their kidney problems may improve.

Researchers continue to study the potential use of other immunosuppressant medications for people with lung transplants.