Immunosuppressed patients retain transplants but become more susceptible to opportunistic infections, which is a major complication in organ transplantation. Life-long immunosuppression for such patients could be reduced by creating immune tolerance, although this might be associated with an increased risk for infections and malignancies. An alternative therapeutic concept could consist of boosting the innate immune response against infections while continuing to suppress the adaptive immune response to prevent graft rejection. We propose granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) as a novel candidate to achieve this goal, based on recent studies in which beneficial effects were demonstrated in immunosuppressed mice with skin allografts and in dexamethasone-suppressed blood from healthy volunteers and blood from liver transplant recipients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy. Such data suggest that GM-CSF or other endogenous factors with similar properties should be examined in clinical trials.
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