Immunosuppression involves an act that reduces the activation or efficacy of the immune system. Some portions of the immune system itself have immuno-suppressive effects on other parts of the immune system, and immunosuppression may occur as an adverse reaction to treatment of other conditions. Deliberately induced immunosuppression is generally done to prevent the body from rejecting an organ transplant, treating graft-versus-host disease after a bone marrow transplant, or for the treatment of auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease. This is typically done using drugs, but may involve surgery (splenectomy), plasmapharesis, or radiation.

A person who is undergoing immunosuppression, or whose immune system is weak for other reasons (for example, chemotherapy and HIV patients) is said to be "immunocompromised". When an organ is transplanted, the immune system of the recipient will most likely recognize it as foreign tissue and attack it. The destruction of the organ will, if untreated, end in the death of the recipient.

In the past, radiation therapy was used to decrease the strength of the immune system, but now immunosuppressant drugs are used to inhibit the reaction of the immune system. The downside is that with such a deactivated immune system, the body is very vulnerable to opportunistic infections, even those usually considered harmless. Also, prolonged use of immunosuppressants increases the risk of cancer.

Cortisone was the first immunosuppressant identified, but its wide range of side effects limited its use. The more specific azathioprine was identified in 1959, but it was the discovery of cyclosporine in 1970 that allowed for significant expansion of kidney transplantation to less well-matched donor-recipient pairs as well as broad application of liver transplantation, lung transplantation, pancreas transplantation, and heart transplantation.

Dr. Joseph Murray of Harvard Medical School and chief plastic surgeon at Children's Hospital Boston from 1972-1985 was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1990 for his work on immunosuppression. Dr. Murray and his team are credited with first successful human kidney transplant at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, Boston on 23 December 1954.

ee also

* immunosuppressant substances
** Immunosuppressive drug
* Transplant rejection

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Immunosuppression — vgl. Immunsuppression …   Das Wörterbuch medizinischer Fachausdrücke

  • immunosuppression — [im΄yə nōsə presh′ən, ī myo͞o′nōsə presh′ən] n. the inactivation of a specific antibody by various agents, thus permitting the acceptance of a foreign substance, as a transplant, by an organism immunosuppressant adj. immunosuppressive …   English World dictionary

  • immunosuppression — ● immunodépression ou immunosuppression nom féminin Diminution, voire suppression, des réactions immunitaires. immunosuppression [i(m)mynosypʀesjɔ̃] n. f. ÉTYM. Mil. XXe (1965 en angl.); de immuno , et suppression. ❖ ♦ Biol., méd. Processus par… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Immunosuppression — L immunosuppression ou immuno inhibition est la suppression médicale du système immunitaire. Elle est généralement réalisée pour empêcher le corps de rejeter une greffe d organe. Quand un organe est greffé, le système immunitaire du receveur va… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • immunosuppression — immunosuppressed, adj. /im yeuh noh seuh presh euhn, i myooh /, n. Pathol. the inhibition of the normal immune response because of disease, the administration of drugs, or surgery. [1960 65; IMMUNO + SUPPRESSION] * * * Suppression of immunity… …   Universalium

  • immunosuppression — Suppression of the body s immune system and its ability to fight infections or disease. Immunosuppression may be deliberately induced with drugs, as in preparation for bone marrow or other organ transplantation to prevent rejection of the donor… …   English dictionary of cancer terms

  • immunosuppression — noun Date: 1963 suppression (as by drugs) of natural immune responses • immunosuppress transitive verb • immunosuppressant noun or adjective • immunosuppressive adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • immunosuppression — This occurs when T and/or B clones of lymphocytes are depleted in size or suppressed in their reactivity, expansion or differentiation. It may arise from activation of specific or nonspecific T suppressor lymphocytes of either T or B clones, or… …   Dictionary of molecular biology

  • immunosuppression — noun The active medical suppression of the immune response. See Also: immunosuppressant, immunosuppressive, immunosuppressor …   Wiktionary

  • immunosuppression — Prevention or interference with the development of immunologic response; may reflect natural immunologic unresponsiveness (tolerance), may be artificially induced by chemical, biological, or physical agents, or may be caused by disease. * * *… …   Medical dictionary

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