mTOR Inhibition and Clinical Transplantation: Liver

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The evidence base concerning use of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor therapy after liver transplantation is evolving rapidly, clarifying their benefits and disadvantages in different clinical scenarios. The H2304 trial showed that starting everolimus at 1 month posttransplant, with reduced tacrolimus, achieves a sustained improvement in renal function versus standard tacrolimus-based therapy, with at least equivalent immunosuppressive efficacy. Randomized studies evaluating early discontinuation of calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) therapy after introduction of an mTOR inhibitor consistently demonstrated a substantial improvement in renal function versus standard CNI therapy. However, concomitant mycophenolic acid is advisable to avoid an increase in mild biopsy-proven acute rejection, and induction with an interleukin-2 receptor antagonist may also be helpful. High-quality robust data regarding prevention of posttransplant malignancies under mTOR inhibitors is lacking in liver transplantation, although there are some indications of benefit. In maintenance patients, robust data are limited regarding mTOR inhibitor initiation in response to deteriorating renal function or other indications but late conversion (>1 year) appears ineffective. Rates of mTOR inhibitor discontinuation due to adverse events are high, affecting at least a quarter of patients. In conclusion, the evidence base for use of mTOR inhibitors early posttransplant to support CNI reduction now convincingly demonstrates a renal advantage, but adequate adjunctive immunosuppression is essential to preserve efficacy.

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