Scientific publications

Usefulness of Rabbit Anti-thymocyte Globulin in Patients With Giant Cell Myocarditis

Aug 1, 2015 | Magazine: American Journal Cardiology

Suarez-Barrientos A (1), Wong J (2), Bell A (2), Lyster H (2), Karagiannis G (2), Banner NR (3).


Giant cell myocarditis (GCM) is an aggressive inflammatory myocardial disease. Immunosuppression is an effective treatment for some cases.

However, the duration of action of agents such as muromonab CD3 is short and others such as the calcineurin inhibitors may lead to renal failure. Here we describe the outcome of a novel approach to treatment using rabbit anti-thymocyte globulin (RATG).

A retrospective analysis of 6 patients treated with RATG for GCM was performed. Diagnosis was confirmed by endomyocardial biopsy, and RATG was administered with a high dose of corticosteroids. None of the patients had cytokine release syndrome or leukopenia, and 5 had thrombocytopenia (2 of them severe).

Only 1 had a serious bleeding event that occurred after implantation of mechanical circulatory support. None developed impaired renal function after the treatment. Five were successfully discharged home with an increase in global left ventricular ejection fraction of 29%. Four are currently alive without recurrent disease, 1 of them after heart transplantation, with a mean follow-up of 970 days (423 to 1,875 days), left ventricular ejection fraction of 53%, and all in current New York Heart Association Classification class ≤II.

Only 1 case had GCM recurrence. There were 2 deaths: one because of intracranial bleeding after mechanical circulatory support implantation and the other caused by primary graft dysfunction. In conclusion, patients with GCM can be successfully immunosuppressed with RATG and corticosteroids, thereby avoiding renal impairment.

Early thrombocytopenia is the main adverse event. Larger cohorts of patients are necessary to compare the different immunosuppressant strategies available for GCM in a randomized fashion.

CITATION  Am J Cardiol. 2015 Aug 1;116(3):447-51. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2015.04.040. Epub 2015 May 8.