Aims: Tacrolimus is a critical dose drug and to avoid under- and overexposure, therapeutic drug monitoring is standard practice. However, rejection and drug-related toxicity occur despite whole-blood tacrolimus pre-dose concentrations ([Tac]blood) being on target. Monitoring tacrolimus concentrations at the target site (within peripheral blood mononuclear cells; [Tac]cells) may better correlate with drug-efficacy. The aim of this study was to (1) investigate the relationship between [Tac]blood and [Tac]cells, (2) identify factors affecting the tacrolimus distribution in cells and whole-blood, and (3) study the relationship between [Tac]cells and clinical outcomes after kidney transplantation. Methods: A total of 175 renal transplant recipients were prospectively followed. [Tac]blood and [Tac]cells were determined at Months 3, 6 and 12 post-transplantation. Patients were genotyped for ABCB1 1199G>A and 3435C>T, CYP3A4 15389C>T, and CYP3A5 6986G>A. Data on rejection and tacrolimus-related nephrotoxicity and post-transplant diabetes mellitus were collected. Results: Correlations between [Tac]blood and [Tac]cells were moderate to poor (Spearman's r = 0.31; r = 0.41; r = 0.61 at Months 3, 6 and 12, respectively). The [Tac]cells/[Tac]blood ratio was stable over time in most patients (median intra-patient variability 39.0%; range 3.5%–173.2%). Age, albumin and haematocrit correlated with the [Tac]cells/[Tac]blood ratio. CYP3A5 and CYP3A4 genotype combined affected both dose-corrected [Tac]blood and [Tac]cells. ABCB1 was not significantly related to tacrolimus distribution. Neither [Tac]blood nor [Tac]cells correlated with clinical outcomes. Conclusions: The correlation between [Tac]blood and [Tac]cells is poor. Age, albumin and haematocrit correlate with the [Tac]cells/[Tac]blood ratio, whereas genetic variation in ABCB1, CYP3A4 and CYP3A5 do not. Neither [Tac]blood nor [Tac]cells correlated with clinical outcomes.

kidney transplantation, peripheral blood mononuclear cell, pharmacogenetics, tacrolimus, therapeutic drug monitoring,
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Department of Internal Medicine

Francke, M.I. (Marith I.), Hesselink, D.A, Li, Y. (Yi), Koch, B.C.P, de Wit, L.E.A, van Schaik, R.H.N, … de Winter, B.C.M. (2020). Monitoring the tacrolimus concentration in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of kidney transplant recipients. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. doi:10.1111/bcp.14585