Renal function improves in liver transplant recipients when switched from a calcineurin inhibitor to sirolimus

Kyrsten D. Fairbanks, Joseph A. Eustance, Derek Fine, Paul J. Thuluvath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


Sirolimus (Rapamune; Wyeth-Ayerst, Philadelphia, PA) is a newer immunosuppressive drug with no known acute or chronic nephrotoxic effects; however, limited data are available in liver transplant recipients. We prospectively evaluated changes in renal function in liver transplant recipients after conversion from a calcineurin inhibitor to sirolimus monotherapy. We measured serial serum creatinine levels in liver transplant recipients with chronic nephrotoxicity caused by calcineurin inhibitors before and after conversion to sirolimus therapy. Estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) was calculated from the Modification of Diet in Renal Disease formula. Change in eGFR over time, incidence of acute hepatocellular rejection, and adverse events while being administered sirolimus monotherapy were recorded. Mean interval between liver transplantation and initiation of sirolimus therapy was 310 weeks (range, 9 to 780 weeks). Of 21 patients included in our study, 18 patients were converted to sirolimus monotherapy and 3 patients were switched to sirolimus and low-dose steroid therapy. Patients were followed up for a mean of 66.8 ± 38.9 (SD) weeks after conversion. Renal function improved in 71% of patients (15 of 21 patients). Median eGFR improved significantly from 34 mL/min/1.73 m2 at the time of conversion to 43 mL/min/1.73 m2 at the last follow-up (27% increase in eGFR; P = 001). Median monthly change in eGFR was from -0.25 mL/min/1.73 m2 pre-sirolimus therapy to + 1.28 mL/min/1.73 m2 post-sirolimus therapy (P =.09). Adverse events were mostly mild and self-limited. Only 1 patient developed biopsy-proven acute cellular rejection, which was treated with sirolimus and mycophenolate mofetil. Two patients discontinued sirolimus therapy because of toxicity (oral ulceration, 1 patient; interstitial pneumonitis, 1 patient). Renal function improved significantly in the majority of liver transplant recipients with renal insufficiency caused by calcineurin inhibitors when converted to sirolimus therapy. Sirolimus monotherapy provided adequate immunosuppression with a low incidence of acute cellular rejection and minimal adverse events.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1079-1085
Number of pages7
JournalLiver Transplantation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Transplantation


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