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The Journal of heart and lung transplantation : the official publication of the International Society for Heart Transplantation

Erratic tacrolimus exposure, assessed using the standard deviation of trough blood levels, predicts chronic lung allograft dysfunction and survival.


PMID 26186804

Abstract

Erratic tacrolimus blood levels are associated with liver and kidney graft failure. We hypothesized that erratic tacrolimus exposure would similarly compromise lung transplant outcomes. This study assessed the effect of tacrolimus mean and standard deviation (SD) levels on the risk of chronic lung allograft dysfunction (CLAD) and death after lung transplantation. We retrospectively reviewed 110 lung transplant recipients who received tacrolimus-based immunosuppression. Cox proportional hazard modeling was used to investigate the effect of tacrolimus mean and SD levels on survival and CLAD. At census, 48 patients (44%) had developed CLAD and 37 (34%) had died. Tacrolimus SD was highest for the first 6 post-transplant months (median, 4.01; interquartile range [IQR], 3.04-4.98 months) before stabilizing at 2.84 μg/liter (IQR, 2.16-4.13 μg/liter) between 6 and 12 months. The SD then remained the same (median, 2.85; IQR, 2.00-3.77 μg/liter) between 12 and 24 months. A high mean tacrolimus level 6 to 12 months post-transplant independently reduced the risk of CLAD (hazard ratio [HR], 0.74; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63-0.86; p < 0.001) but not death (HR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.83-1.12; p = 0.65). In contrast, a high tacrolimus SD between 6 and 12 months independently increased the risk of CLAD (HR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.23-1.73; p < 0.001) and death (HR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.08-1.51; p = 0.005). Erratic tacrolimus levels are a risk factor for poor lung transplant outcomes. Identifying and modifying factors that contribute to this variability may significantly improve outcomes.

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