Purpose: Nephrotoxicity of calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) complicates the management of chronic renal allograft dysfunction. Rapamycin is a promising immunosuppressive agent free of nephrotoxicity. The effect of conversion from CNI to rapamycin in recipients with chronic allograft dysfunction is still unclear. We investigated the effect of rapamycin in patients with chronic allograft dysfunction. Methods: We conducted a prospective study on kidney transplant recipients with chronic allograft dysfunction. The patients were under classic CNI, mycophenolate mofetil, and prednisolone triple therapy. They had progressive deterioration of the allograft function. They were converted from CNI to rapamycin directly and observed for 6 months. The CNI serum levels before the conversion were within recommended range. Allograft function, clinical features and adverse effects were evaluated before and after the rapamycin conversion. Results: A total of 16 patients were enrolled. Six of them (37.5%) failed to have a smooth conversion because of deterioration of allograft function and intractable adverse effects. Ten patients (62.5%) went through the 6-month observation period with improved graft function. The average reduction of serum creatinine was 27.7% (p < 0.001) in successful conversion. There were no significant differences on age, gender, lipid profile, sugar control, and rapamycin levels between successful and failed conversion. Anemia and diastolic blood pressure were significantly improved after successful conversion. The failed patients had a longer transplantation period (6.1 ± 4.1 vs. 11.2 ± 3.4 yr, p < 0.05). Two of them (12.5%) developed bacteria pneumonia. Self-limited diarrhea developed in three patients (18.8%). Conclusion: We suggested that conversion from CNI to rapamycin was beneficial in some kidney transplant recipients with chronic allograft dysfunction.
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