High Intrapatient Variability of Tacrolimus Levels and Outpatient Clinic Nonattendance Are Associated With Inferior Outcomes in Renal Transplant Patients

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Abstract

Background

Nonadherence to immunosuppressants is associated with rejection and allograft loss. Intrapatient variability (IPV) of immunosuppression levels is a marker of nonadherence. This study describes the impact of IPV of tacrolimus levels in patients receiving a tacrolimus monotherapy immunosuppression protocol.

Methods

We retrospectively analyzed the outpatient tacrolimus levels of kidney-only transplant patients taken between 6 and 12 months posttransplant. IPV was determined using the coefficient of variance.

Results

Six hundred twenty-eight patients with a mean number of 8.98 ± 3.81 tacrolimus levels and a mean follow-up of 4.72 ± 2.19 years were included. Multivariate analysis showed death was associated with increasing age (1.04 [1.01-1.07], P = 0.0055), diabetes at time of transplant (2.79 [1.44-5.41], P = 0.0024), and rejection (2.34 [1.06-5.19], P = 0.036). Variables associated with graft loss included the highest variability group (2.51 [1.01-6.27], P = 0.048), mean tacrolimus level less than 5 ng/mL (4.32 [1.94-9.63], P = 0.0003), a high clinic nonattendance rate (1.10 [1.01-1.20], P = 0.03), and rejection (9.83 [4.62-20.94], P < 0.0001). Independent risk factors for rejection were de novo donor-specific antibody (3.15 [1.84-5.39], P < 0.0001), mean tacrolimus level less than 5 ng/mL (2.57 [1.27-5.19], P = 0.00860, and a high clinic nonattendance rate (1.11 [1.05-1.18], P = 0.0005).

Conclusions

This study shows that high tacrolimus IPV and clinic nonattendance are associated with inferior allograft survival. Interventions to minimize the causes of high variability, particularly nonadherence are essential to improve long-term allograft outcomes.

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