Prednisolone and Prednisone Pharmacokinetics in Pediatric Renal Transplant Recipients—A Prospective Study

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Background:Prednisolone is a standard component of immunosuppressive protocols in renal transplantation (Tx) and despite standardized treatment regimens, adverse side effects are still frequent. The aim of this study was to characterize the pharmacokinetics of prednisolone and prednisone in pediatric renal transplant recipients in the first 52 weeks post Tx, to describe the relationship between prednisolone and prednisone, and to investigate a possible relationship between the development of new-onset diabetes after Tx (NODAT) and glucocorticoid exposure.Methods:Renal transplant recipients receiving prednisolone (n = 11, age 1–15 years) were included in this prospective open-label, descriptive, nonrandomized, and noninterventional study. Blood samples were drawn pre-Tx and during selected dose intervals (0, 1, 2, 4, 6, and 12 hours postdose; less frequent in children <10 kg) at 1, 2, 3, 4, 12, and 52 weeks post-Tx. Concentrations of prednisolone and cortisol, their inactive keto forms, plus methylprednisolone, were measured using a validated LC-MS/MS method. Genetic variants in the CYP3A4, CYP3A5, ABCB1, and HSD11B2 genes were analyzed using real-time polymerase chain reaction and Sanger sequencing. Correlation with NODAT was investigated.Results:The patients displayed considerable intra- and inter-individual variability in prednisolone exposure, with up to 5-fold differences in the area under the concentration–time curve (AUC). There were up to 7-fold differences in prednisolone/prednisone AUC ratio between patients, and patients experiencing NODAT tended to have a higher ratio (>12) compared with patients without NODAT (<12). Genetic variants in CYP3A5 and ABCB1 were found, but due to the limited study population causality cannot be definitive.Conclusions:The study suggests that a high prednisolone/prednisone AUC ratio may be a possible risk factor for NODAT. Further studies of individualization of glucocorticoid treatment in pediatric organ Tx are warranted.

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