Background Calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)-related nephrotoxicity significantly contributes to chronic renal failure after liver transplantation.
Methods In this prospective study, liver transplantation patients with renal dysfunction were randomized either to receive mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) followed by stepwise reduction of CNI with defined minimal CNI-trough levels (MMF group), or to continue their maintenance CNI dose (control group). Immune monitoring was performed in a subgroup of the patients.
Results In the MMF group (n = 50), renal function assessed by serum creatinine improved >10% in 62% of patients, was stable in 36% and deteriorated >10% in 2% after 12 months compared with baseline values. Mean serum creatinine levels (± s.d.) significantly decreased from 1.90 ± 0.44 mg/dL to 1.61 ± 0.39 mg/dL and the corresponding calculated glomerular filtration rate significantly increased from 38.8 ± 9.6 mL/min/1.73 m2 to 47.0 ± 11.8 mL/min/1.73 m2 over a 12-month follow-up period. Blood pressure and levels of liver enzymes significantly decreased. In the control group (n = 25), there were no significant changes with respect to the investigated parameters. The MMF group had significantly lower numbers of circulating cytotoxic T cells compared with the controls; whereas regulatory T cells significantly increased.
Conclusion Combined MMF and minimal dose CNI therapy after liver transplantation is nephroprotective and may promote allograft tolerance.