Immunosuppression for Pediatric Liver Transplant Patients

Two areas of advancement for patients and families of children who are undergoing liver transplant recovery are immunologic testing and immunosuppression withdrawal. Both topics are described below.

New Immunologic Tests

With the help of investigators at the Hillman Center for Pediatric Transplantation and around the country, we have designed simple blood tests that may help determine why some patients need more immunosuppression and some need less.

These tests measure different immune cell types, the patient’s genetic ability to cause immune reactions, and the patient’s immune reactions to their new liver after a transplant procedure.

What is involved?

  • The tests need to be drawn at a visit in Pittsburgh, preferably Monday through Wednesday.
  • The blood tests can be drawn with your usual blood work.
  • We need at least three weeks notice prior to scheduling your tests.
  • These tests may be of benefit to all patients, both those who need less immunosuppression drugs as well as those who have needed more because of past rejection.

To participate, call your Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC liver transplant coordinator at 412-648-3200 and schedule a visit.

Post-Liver Transplant Immunosuppression Withdrawal

While some patients may require drug withdrawal due to infections or other emergency indications, other patients may be candidates for elective drug withdrawal after liver transplantation.

Immunosuppression is weaned as part of our ongoing clinical efforts to minimize the complications of immune suppressants. Weaning of immunosuppression is individually tailored to each patient.

What are the criteria for considering elective drug withdrawal?

  • Normal liver function
  • No history of autoimmune liver disease
  • Ability and willingness to obtain more frequent blood work after changes in immunosuppression
  • A liver biopsy may be recommended if there is significant change in liver numbers or at certain points in the drug withdrawal process

For more information, contact a Children’s Hospital liver transplant coordinator at 412-648-3200.

Learn more about Pediatric Liver Transplants at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.