High within-patient variability in the clearance of tacrolimus is a risk factor for poor long-term outcome after kidney transplantation
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Background. We hypothesized that a high within-patient variability in clearance of tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) would put patients at risk for periods of over- or underimmunosuppression and would thus lead to long-term chronic allograft nephropathy and graft loss after transplantation.Methods. From 297 patients transplanted between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2004, the within-patient variability in clearance was calculated from tacrolimus whole-blood concentrations and mycophenolic acid (MPA) plasma concentrations drawn between 6 and 12 months post-transplantation. As a primary outcome, a composite end point consisting of graft loss, biopsy-proven chronic allograft nephropathy and 'doubling in plasma creatinine concentration in the period between t = 12 months post-transplantation and last follow-up' was used.Results. In the study population of 297 patients, 34 patients reached the primary end point of graft failure. The within-patient variability in the clearance of tacrolimus and three other covariates are significant risk factors for reaching the composite end point of failure [P-values for intraindividual tacrolimus variability = 0.003, biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR) = 0.003, recipient age at transplantation = 0.005]. The mean tacrolimus concentration for controls [7.4 (± 2.9) ng/mL] and for failures [6.9 (± 2.5) ng/mL] was similar. Within-patient variability in the clearance of MPA was not related to reaching the composite end point of failure.Conclusions. This study shows a significant relationship between the high within-patient variability in the clearance of tacrolimus, but not for MPA, and long-term graft failure.