Background Chronic active antibody mediated rejection (c-aABMR) is a major cause of long-term kidney allograft loss. It is hypothesized that frequent sub-therapeutic exposure to immunosuppressive drugs, in particular tacrolimus (Tac), is a risk factor for the development of c-aABMR. The intra-patient variability (IPV) in Tac exposure may serve as a substitute biomarker for underexposure and/or non-adherence. In this study, the association between Tac IPV and the development of c-aABMR was investigated. Methods We retrospectively included 59 patients diagnosed with c-aABMR and compared them to 189 control patients matched for age, year of transplantation and type of kidney donor. The Tac IPV was calculated from pre-dose tacrolimus concentrations measured over a 3 year period preceding the diagnosis of c-aABMR. The mean Tac predose concentrations (C0), Tac IPV, renal allograft function and graft survival were compared between the groups. Results Tac IPV was 24.4% for the cases versus 23.6% for the controls (p = 0.47). The mean Tac C0 was comparable for the cases (5.8 ng/mL) and control patients (6.1 ng/mL, p = 0.08). Only in the c-aABMR group a significant decline in both mean Tac C0 and allograft function over the timespan of 3 years was observed (p = 0.03 and p<0.001). Additionally, in the group of c-aABMR patients a high IPV was associated with inferior graft survival (p = 0.03). Conclusions A high Tac IPV per se does not predispose to the development of c-aABMR but is associated with inferior graft survival once c-aABMR is diagnosed.

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Journal PLoS ONE
Sablik, K.A, Clahsen-van Groningen, M.C, Hesselink, D.A, van Gelder, T, & Betjes, M.G.H. (2018). Tacrolimus intra-patient variability is not associated with chronic active antibody mediated rejection. PLoS ONE, 13(5). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0196552