Introduction: Tacrolimus (Tac) is the cornerstone of immunosuppressive therapy after solid organ transplantation and will probably remain so. Excluding belatacept, no new immunosuppressive drugs were registered for the prevention of acute rejection during the last decade. For several immunosuppressive drugs, clinical development halted because they weren’t sufficiently effective or more toxic. Areas covered: Current methods of monitoring Tac treatment, focusing on traditional therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM), controversies surrounding TDM, novel matrices, pharmacogenetic and pharmacodynamic monitoring are discussed. Expert opinion: Due to a narrow therapeutic index and large interpatient pharmacokinetic variability, TDM has been implemented for individualization of Tac dose to maintain drug efficacy and minimize the consequences of overexposure. The relationship between predose concentrations and the occurrence of rejection or toxicity is controversial. Acute cellular rejection also occurs when the Tac concentration is within the target range, suggesting that Tac whole blood concentrations don’t necessarily correlate with pharmacological effect. Intracellular Tac, the unbound fraction of Tac or pharmacodynamic monitoring could be better biomarkers/tools for adequate Tac exposure–research into this has been promising. Traditional TDM, perhaps following pre-emptive genotyping for Tac-metabolizing enzymes, must suffice for a few years before these strategies can be implemented in clinical practice.

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Keywords Immunosuppressive drugs, kidney, pharmacodynamics, pharmacogenetics, pharmacokinetics, tacrolimus, TDM, transplantation
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Journal Informa Health Care
Andrews, L.M, Li, Y. (Yi), de Winter, B.C.M, Shi, Y.Y, Baan, C.C, van Gelder, T, & Hesselink, D.A. (2017). Pharmacokinetic considerations related to therapeutic drug monitoring of tacrolimus in kidney transplant patients. Informa Health Care (Vol. 13, pp. 1225–1236). doi:10.1080/17425255.2017.1395413