Last updated on May 2019

Pirfenidone for Restrictive Chronic Lung Allograft Dysfunction


Brief description of study

Despite advances in lung transplantation, the median survival remains only 55% at 5 years. The main limitation to long term survival is the development of chronic lung allograft dysfunction. In approximately 30% of cases, chronic lung allograft dysfunction has a restrictive phenotype (RCLAD) characterized by fibrosis with rapid progression to respiratory failure. Approximately 60% of patients with RCLAD die within one year, as currently there are no therapies available.

RCLAD, like Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), is characterized by fibroblast proliferation, extracellular matrix deposition, and architectural distortion leading to progressive lung scarring and death. Given their similarities, there is keen interest in the international transplant community to investigate whether the anti-fibrotic drug pirfenidone can slow the progression of RCLAD as it does of IPF. Pirfenidone has been proved to be safe and effective in patients with IPF, and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

This protocol will evaluate the safety and tolerability of pirfenidone in lung transplant recipients with RCLAD. Transplant recipients take carefully adjusted immunosuppressive medications for life to prevent rejection of the allograft. Current literature suggests the dose of tacrolimus, the main anti-rejection drug, may need to be adjusted when taken in combination with pirfenidone. The investigators will assess the side effects of pirfenidone in combination with the immunosuppressive regimen and determine the magnitude of the adjustment in tacrolimus dose. The results of this pilot study will provide the foundation for a multicenter randomized control trial to evaluate the efficacy of pirfenidone in slowing the progression of RCLAD.

Detailed Study Description

Despite advances in lung transplantation, median survival remains only 55% at 5 years. The primary cause of death is chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD), occurring in 43% of recipients at 5 years. Recently, it has been recognized that CLAD can have an obstructive (BOS) or a restrictive (RCLAD) phenotype, also known as restrictive allograft syndrome (RAS), and that both may coexist. These phenotypes differ not only in their spirometric, radiographic and histologic features but also in their rates of progression and survival. Thus, there is a critical need to find therapies other than re-transplantation, which remains the only effective therapeutic option and explore the pathobiology driving RCLAD.

RCLAD shares features with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), including its progressive and lethal course, extracellular matrix deposition, architectural distortion, fibroblast proliferation, and short telomeres in lung epithelial cells. These common features suggest RCLAD and IPF may share molecular pathogenesis. As a result, some have explored using FDA approved anti-fibrotic medications for IPF in RCLAD in case reports.

This proposal aims to gather the preliminary data needed to design a multicenter randomized controlled trial (RCT) of pirfenidone for RCLAD. To do so, the investigators first need evidence of tolerability, to understand drug interactions with the immunosuppressive regimen used to maintain allograft function and early evidence that pirfenidone may slow FVC decline and radiographic progression in RCLAD.

Evidence that pirfenidone is well tolerated in transplant recipients and that it slows the progression of RCLAD would be paradigm shifting. Further, identifying subjects at risk for RCLAD before the onset of spirometric changes would allow to start therapeutic interventions sooner, maximizing their benefit. Finding biomarkers that predict response to pirfenidone would identify patients most likely to benefit.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03359863

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