Antithymocyte Globulin Rabbit (Intravenous)

The use of antithymocyte globulin rabbit in conjunction with other medication helps to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted kidney or liver.


Antithymocyte globulin rabbit, a sterilized solution made of rabbit cells, treats and prevents rejection of a kidney or other organ transplants. It is known as an immunosuppressant that works by decreasing the body's natural defences whenever a patient receives an organ transplant. The white cells of the body try to reject the transplanted organ, so antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) works by preventing the white cells from achieving this reaction and to function normally.

Before treatment begins with this medication, the patient and their physician should discuss the benefits of antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) as it affects the white cells in reducing the body's ability to fight infections. Any infections, allergies to this product or previous severe reactions to other immune globulins must be addressed by your healthcare professional. However, these medications may make you more likely to get infections or worsen any current infections.

Additional medications, such as an antibiotic, antihistamine, acetaminophen or corticosteroid, proposed for the patient's use, helps to decrease side effects during their treatment. By following your physician's orders for taking these other medications, it will help to prevent kidney transplant rejection or the possibility of infection.

All prescription and non-prescription medications in use by a patient ought to be thoroughly discussed with their healthcare professional in order to prevent this treatment from becoming ineffective. The decision to use this particular medication includes weighing up the risks, as well as the good it may do for the patient. Regular visits to the doctor include required blood tests to make sure that antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) is working properly.

Conditions treated

Type of medicine

  • Brand name: Thymoglobulin
  • Generic name: Anti-Thymocyte Glob (Rabbit), ATG rabbit

Side effects

Some unwanted side effects may transpire along with the more needed effects of this product. Always contact your physician or health care professional immediately should any unusual complications take place:

  • Anxiety
  • Black stools
  • Bladder issues
  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing trouble
  • Bloody or cloudy urine
  • Cold or cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Ear ache
  • Excess nasal drainage
  • General illness
  • Headache
  • High fever
  • Inflamed glands
  • Joint pain
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea
  • Numbness
  • Pain in the chest
  • Painful urination
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sores, ulcers on lips or mouth
  • Throat irritation
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness in legs

Less common:

  • Bloating
  • Digestive disorders
  • Indigestion
  • Inflammation of joints
  • Stomach upset or tenderness


  • Hives, rash, itching
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Severe dizziness
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, eyes, eyelids, or face

A number of side effects that occur may not necessarily result in the need for a physician's office visit as they may be a result of the body adjusting to the medication. Any changes should be continually monitored. Areas of your body where changes might be noted include:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Nervous system
  • Hematologic
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Genitourinary
  • Dermatologic
  • Respiratory
  • Metabolic

Your physician may discuss with you ways to avoid or lessen some of the effects associated with your condition. Always talk with your physician concerning the continuation of worsening effects or if there are any questions regarding the medication and dosage.

Should any other side effects become noticeable outside of the ones listed above, contact your healthcare professional for medical attention or report the side effects to the US Food and Drug Administration at 1-888-463-6332.


The intravenous powder solution produced in a 25mg vial has a dosage determined based on weight, medical condition, lab tests and response to treatment factored into this combination. A slow injection administered into a vein through an IV by a healthcare professional or as directed by the patient's physician usually takes over a four to six hour period. Tell your physician if any redness, pain or swelling occurs during your injection.

In addition to the number of doses taken each day, time allowance between doses, and the length of time the medicine is taken will, nevertheless, depend on the medical issue.

Injection dosage for kidney transplant:

  • Adults: 1.5mg for every 2.2 pounds of body weight injected into a vein every day for seven to 14 days
  • Children: dosage determination by the physician

A dosage modification is based on monitoring patients for adverse reactions during and after therapy, including checking the white blood count and platelet counts. There is no specific information comparing the use of antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) in children or the elderly within other age groups as to whether or not adverse effects are more or less prominent.

Should you miss a dose, contact your healthcare professional immediately. Overdose symptoms may fall into the category of serious side effects and seeking emergency medical attention from your physician would be advised or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Major drug interactions

Certain combined medications should not always occur jointly, although in some cases two different medicines may be used even if an interaction occurs. Therefore, in these situations, the physician may want to change the dose or take other precautions. If over-the-counter products or any other prescriptions are being used, it is necessary to tell your healthcare professional.

There are 29 major drug interactions, 65 moderate drug interactions and 15 minor drug interactions, both brand name and generic, that are not to be taken while having this treatment. Avoiding all immunizations and vaccinations must be adhered to at this time.


These medicines may interact negatively and cause a harmful effect if taken simultaneously. A medication that suppresses the immune system may prevent your body from responding properly to the product you have been taking and may increase the development of further illness:

  • Azathioprine
  • Allergy to rabbit proteins
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Cyclosporine
  • Echinacea
  • Other herbal supplements


Treatment with antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) may increase the chance of other infections as a result of a lower immune system and this information bears repeating to the patient for their own awareness. Avoiding people with colds, open cuts or other infections is the recommended course of action. This medicine commonly causes fevers and chills within a few hours after the first dose and lessens with the next dose.

There's no data regarding the effect of antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) during pregnancy. Accordingly, the only suggested use of this treatment during pregnancy comes out of necessity when there are no alternatives and benefits outweigh the risks. Generally, discontinuing breastfeeding or drug treatment would take place due to the possibility of adverse reactions in nursing infants.

There is a possibility of increased development of certain types of cancer, including cancer of the skin and lymphatic, due to a lowered immune system. There's a recommendation of sunscreen application as well as limiting time out in the sun while avoiding tanning booths and sunlamps altogether. Consult with your physician for more details on how this may affect your lifestyle.

Other medical problems:

  • Hypersensitivity
  • Infection
  • Infusion reactions
  • Malignancy


Vials stored at 36 degrees F to 46 degrees F need protection from the light and should never be frozen. Reconstituted medication is stable at room temperature for up to 24 hours, and although the product contains no preservatives, room temperature storage is not always advised. The manufacturer recommends immediate use after preparation and any unused portion discarded.

Storage is normally within the confines of a hospital or clinic, but in the case of home use, remember to keep any medication out of the reach of children and pets and use only as directed by a health care provider.


Antithymocyte globulin rabbit combined with other medications helps to prevent the body from rejecting a kidney or other organ transplant. A sterilized solution of rabbit cells injected into human white blood cells lowers the immune system where it may reject the organ. Under a physician's supervision, the patient receives an injection over a period of time in order to avert a rejection of the organ.

Certain medicines, foods, alcohol, tobacco or other lifestyle changes may need to take place during the time of this injection since interactions may occur which will interfere with the effectiveness of this product.

All medical history, especially if there has been an episode of bleeding, blood clotting issues or infections needs to be mentioned to your health care professional in order to make sure that this medication is on the right path for improvement to your health.

Consequently, careful consideration requires that throughout this time period, it is necessary to not lower the patient's immune system by exposing them to further infection. Antithymocyte globulin (rabbit) may cause serious life-threatening reactions and may require immediate medical attention. However, always ask your physician or health care professional for complete information regarding this product as it applies to your situation.

Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 04, 2018
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