Learned Immunosuppressive Placebo Responses in Renal Transplant Patients

Akin to other physiological responses, immune functions can be modified in humans through associative conditioning procedures as part of a learned placebo response. However, it is unclear whether learned immune responses can be produced in patient populations already receiving an immunosuppressive regimen. In the present study, we demonstrate in renal transplant patients who were already receiving immunosuppressive treatment that learned immunosuppressive placebo responses increased efficacy of immunosuppressive medication. These data demonstrate that behavioral conditioning of drug responses may be a promising tool that could be used as a placebo-based dose-reduction strategy in an ongoing immunopharmacological regimen, the aim being to limit unwanted drug adverse effects and to improve treatment efficacy.

https://www.pnas.org/content/115/16/4223