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Keywords:

  • atherosclerosis;
  • hyperlipidemia;
  • liver transplantation;
  • long-term survivor;
  • sirolimus

Abstract:  Introduction:  Sirolimus (SRL) is an immunosuppressive agent of potential benefit in clinical liver transplantation (LTX). One of the major side effects of SRL is hyperlipidemia, which is reported in up to 44% of patients. In this report, we describe the lipid profiles of 20 stable liver transplant recipients who received SRL for immunosuppression.

Methods:  The study group received SRL in combination with tacrolimus and/or mycophenolate mofetil (MMF). The control group was administered calcineurin inhibitor (CI) and MMF. Fasting serum cholesterol level, high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) were measured regularly. Furthermore, the total cholesterol/HDL ratio and the LDL/HDL ratio were evaluated. Diabetes and hypertension were monitored as well.

Results:  In the SRL group, hypercholesterolemia was found in three patients (15%) and hypertriglyceridemia in two patients (10%). There was no marked difference from the control group, although a higher association of SRL with hyperlipidemia was described in the literature. Furthermore, HDL and LDL levels were similar in both groups, as well as total cholesterol/HDL ratio and LDL/HDL ratio. Diabetes and hypertension had a similar incidence in both the groups. Thus, there was no difference concerning the cardiovascular atherosclerosis risk between the immunosuppressive protocol with SRL or with CI.

Discussion:  The results of our retrospective study demonstrated that the immunosuppressive regimen can potentially influence the incidence of hyperlipidemia in patients after LTX. SRL in combination with tacrolimus and/or MMF had no higher incidence of hyperlipidemia than CI and MMF. The combination of immunosuppressive therapy with low dose and low levels of each immunosuppressive agent could decrease the risk of atherosclerosis and its complications in long-term survivors after LTX.