Beyond Cyclosporine: A Systematic Review of Limited Sampling Strategies for Other Immunosuppressants

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Therapeutic drug monitoring has gained much attention in the management of immunosuppressive therapy. Area under the plasma drug concentration-time curve (AUC) is the pharmacokinetic (PK) parameter most commonly used to assess total exposure to a drug. However, estimation of AUC requires multiple blood samples throughout the dosing period, which is often inconvenient and expensive. Limited sampling strategies (LSSs) are therefore developed to estimate AUC and other PK parameters accurately and precisely while minimizing the number of blood samples needed. This greatly reduces costs, labor and inconvenience for both patients and clinical staff. In the therapeutic management of solid organ transplantation, LSSs for cyclosporine are commonplace and have been extensively reviewed. Thus, this systematic review paper focuses on other immunosuppressive agents and categorizes the 24 pertinent citations according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force rating scale. Thirteen articles (3 level I, 1 level II-1, 2 level II-2, and 7 level III) involved LSSs for mycophenolate, 7 citations (1 level I and 6 level III) for tacrolimus (TAC), and 3 citations (all level III) for other drugs (sirolimus) or multiple drugs. The 2 main approaches to establishing LSSs, multiple regression and Bayesian analyses, are also reviewed. Important elements to consider for future LSS studies, including proper validation of LSSs, convenient sampling times, and application of LSSs to the appropriate patient population and drug formulation are discussed. Limited sampling strategies are a useful tool to help clinicians make decisions on drug therapy. However, patients' pathophysiology, environmental and genetic factors, and pharmacologic response to therapy, in conjunction with PK profiling tools such as LSSs, should be considered collectively for optimal therapy management.

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