IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE EFFECTS AND SAFETY OF A SIROLIMUS/CYCLOSPORINE COMBINATION REGIMEN FOR RENAL TRANSPLANTATION1

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Abstract

Background.

Sirolimus, a novel immunosuppressant that inhibits cytokine-driven cell proliferation and maturation, prolongs allograft survival in animal models. After a phase I trial in stable renal transplant recipients documented that cyclosporine and sirolimus have few overlapping toxicities, we conducted an open-label, single-center, phase I/II dose-escalation trial to examine the safety and efficacy of this drug combination.

Methods.

Forty mismatched living-donor renal transplant recipients were sequentially assigned to receive escalating initial doses of sirolimus (0.5-7.0 mg/m2/day), in addition to courses of prednisone and a concentration-controlled regimen of cyclosporine. We conducted surveillance for drug-induced side effects among sirolimus-treated patients and compared their incidence of acute rejection episodes as well as mean laboratory values with those of a historical cohort of 65 consecutive, immediately precedent, demographically similar recipients treated with the same concentration-controlled regimen of cyclosporine and tapering doses of prednisone.

Results.

The addition of sirolimus reduced the overall incidence of acute allograft rejection episodes to 7.5% from 32% in the immediately precedent cyclosporine/prednisone-treated patients. At 18- to 47-month follow-up periods, both treatment groups displayed similar rates of patient and graft survival, as well as morbid complications. Although sirolimus-treated patients displayed comparatively lower platelet and white blood cell counts and higher levels of serum cholesterol and triglycerides, sirolimus did not augment the nephrotoxic or hypertensive proclivities of cyclosporine. The degree of change in the laboratory values was more directly associated with whole blood trough drug concentrations than with doses of sirolimus.

Conclusions.

Sirolimus potentiates the immunosuppressive effects of a cyclosporine-based regimen by reducing the rate of acute rejection episodes.

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