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Keywords:

  • liver transplantation;
  • calcineurin inhibitors;
  • photopheresis;
  • nephrotoxicity;
  • neurotoxicity;
  • immunosuppression

Abstract

The aim of this work is to report on the results of a single-center, prospective study on the feasibility of calcineurin-inhibitor (CNI)-staggered immunosuppression by use of extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) in liver transplant (LT) recipients at risk of renal and neurological complications.Patients were matched on a 1:1 basis with historical controls on standard CNI immunosuppression. ECP patients were treated with ECP plus antimetabolites and/or steroids, while CNIs were withheld until clinically indicated. Thirty-six patients were evaluated: 18 ECP patients and 18 controls. ECP was tolerated in 100% of cases. CNI were introduced at a median of 8 days (4–55) in 17 ECP patients, while one patient was on a fully CNI-sparing regimen 22 months after LT. Acute rejection occurred in 27.7% patients in ECP (5/18) versus 16.7% in controls (3/18) (P = ns) with a shorter time to rejection in ECP (36 ± 31.3 days vs. 83.6 ± 65.6 days; P = ns). All rejection episodes were amenable to medical treatment. Neurological and renal complications occurred in 22.2% (4/18) of patients in either group, but led to in-hospital mortality in 3 patients among controls versus 1 in ECP (P = ns). One-, 6-, and 12-month survival rates were 94.4, 88.1, and 88.1% in ECP versus 94.4, 77.7, and 72.2% among controls (P < 0.0001). ECP seems to allow for management of high-risk LT recipients in the early post-transplant course and reduction of CNI-related mortality. Continued data validation is favored to assess the impact of ECP on long-term graft and patient survival. J Clin Apheresis 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.