Tacrolimus is the key immunosuppressive drug for liver transplantation. Once-daily prolonged-release tacrolimus (TAC-PR) exhibits good drug adherence but has difficulty controlling the trough level in the early phase of liver transplantation. The aim of this study was to compare the feasibility and efficacy of immediately starting oral TAC-PR versus traditional twice-daily tacrolimus (TAC-BID) in de novo liver transplantation recipients.Methods
The study included 28 patients treated with conventional TAC-BID and 60 patients treated with TAC-PR (median follow-up 70.5 months). Short-term and long-term outcomes were compared.Results
Patient characteristics were similar except for the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma and type of graft. Dose adjustment was more frequently required for TAC-PR than TAC-BID (73.3% vs 42.9%, P = 0.006), but trough levels of TAC during the first 3 months after liver transplantation were controlled well in both groups. The rate of acute cellular rejection and long-term renal function were similar in both groups. In both groups, renal function worsened during the first 6 months after transplantation and remained stable until the end of the follow-up period. The 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year survival rates were 96.4%, 85.7%, and 85.7% for TAC-BID and 96.7%, 94.8%, and 94.8% for TAC-PR, respectively. The overall survival curve for TAC-PR was not inferior to that of TAC-BID.Conclusions
The TAC-PR protocol was feasible and effective with strict adjustment.