Neoral and rapamycin derivative (RAD) have complementary mechanisms for inhibition of lymphocyte activation and are substrates for the same pathways of drug metabolism. Therefore, we investigated treatment regimens designed to minimize pharmacokinetic interactions and to potentiate immunosuppressive efficacy in a highly stringent rat lung allograft model.Methods.
Lewis recipients of Brown Norway lungs received the following daily oral doses: (A) RAD at 2.5 mg/kg (n=9); (B) Neoral at 7.5 mg/kg (n=8); (C) RAD at 2.5 mg/kg + Neoral at 7.5 mg/kg simultaneously (n=8); or (D) RAD at 2.5 mg/kg + Neoral at 7.5 mg/kg (n=6) staggered 6 hr apart. Rats were assessed by daily weights, chest radiographs, drug trough levels (high-performance liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry), and blinded scoring of graft histology at death (day 21).Results.
Radiographs were completely opacified in all grafts of control and RAD monotherapy groups on days 7 and 14, respectively. Grafts were mildly opacified (Neoral monotherapy) and completely clear (both RAD + Neoral groups) on day 21. Simultaneous or staggered combined treatment dramatically reduced histologic rejection compared with treatment with either drug alone. Simultaneous treatment caused poor tolerability (poor grooming, lethargy) and significantly higher day-14 RAD and cyclosporine (CsA) trough levels (49±5 and 638±106 ng/ml; P<0.04) than in the staggered group (28±3 and 318±25 ng/ml) in which all animals were clinically normal. RAD and CsA day-14 trough levels in the staggered group were the same or lower than trough levels in animals treated with either drug alone (RAD 27±3/Neoral 815±67 ng/ml).Conclusions.
(1) Administration of RAD + Neoral suppressed lung rejection more effectively than treatment with either drug alone. (2) Trough levels did not differ between monotherapy and staggered combination therapy for RAD but were lower for CsA. These results suggested that pharmacological, rather than pharmacokinetic, interactions between the parent drugs were responsible for the potentiation of immunosuppression when these drugs were coadministered. 3) Staggered administration of RAD+Neoral avoided the pharmacokinetic interactions that caused the elevated drug blood levels and poor tolerability caused by simultaneous administration. Thus, we could potentiate efficacy and improve tolerability by staggering administration of RAD and Neoral.