Mycophenolate Mofetil Monotherapy in Liver Transplantation: 5-Year Follow-Up of a Prospective Randomized Trial

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Abstract

Background.

Calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) play the key role in immunosuppressive protocols yet are often associated with numerous side effects. Renal insufficiency, hypertension, hyperglycemia, and increased risk of secondary malignancy are major problems in short- and long-term follow-up of liver transplant patients. Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) has proved to be a potent immunosuppressive agent free of the CNI-associated side effects.

Patients and Methods.

One hundred fifty patients who received liver transplantation at our institution (1998–2003) were prospectively randomized: 75 patients continued CNI standard therapy, 75 patients were switched to MMF monotherapy, and follow-up was 5 years. Incidence of rejection, renal complication, cardiovascular, neurological and gastrointestinal adverse effects, and diabetes and malignancy development was recorded. Graft biopsies were performed every 2 to 3 years.

Results.

No significant difference regarding the incidence of acute rejection was detected. A trend to higher rejection frequency was apparent in the MMF monotherapy group. Chronic rejection was absent; organ and patient survival were identical in the two groups. No significant difference occurred concerning the incidence of cardiovascular, gastrointestinal or neurological adverse effects, or the development of malignancies. Renal function improved significantly in patients with renal insufficiency when patients treated with CNI were switched to MMF monotherapy.

Conclusion.

MMF monotherapy may serve as safe long-term immunosuppression after liver transplantation for a subgroup of patients. Especially for patients with renal insufficiency MMF offers immunosuppression without the risk of nephrotoxicity.

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