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Keywords:

  • Kidney transplantation;
  • sirolimus;
  • tacrolimus

We performed a randomized trial to compare two regimens of low-risk kidney allograft recipients in the first year after transplantation. Both regimens initially included sirolimus, tacrolimus and steroids; one with long-term maintenance with these drugs vs. tacrolimus withdrawal. Group I: sirolimus levels of 4–8 ng/mL, plus tacrolimus 8–12 ng/mL for 3 months, and 5–10 ng/mL after month 3. Group II: sirolimus concentration of 8–16 ng/mL, plus tacrolimus 3–8 ng/mL with tacrolimus elimination from month 3 onwards. Owing to difficulties in achieving target levels, the protocol was amended to increase the doses. Eighty-seven patients were recruited. In the intention-to-treat analysis, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) at 12 months, adjusted to zero for graft loss, was similar in both groups (58.8 and 59.9 mL/min). Analysis of patients remaining on protocol showed that GFR was higher in group II only in the patients postamendment (58.4 and 72.9 mL/min, p = 0.03). Rates of biopsy-confirmed rejection (BCAR) were 9.3% and 22.7% in groups I and II, respectively (p = NS). After amendment, BCAR rates were 10.3% and 11.1% (p = NS). Diastolic blood pressure was significantly lower in patients who eliminated tacrolimus (80.4 vs. 75.6 mmHg) (p = 0.03). Combining sirolimus and tacrolimus with adequate loading doses was associated with a low incidence of BCAR, and allowed tacrolimus elimination in a high proportion of patients, which may be followed by amelioration in renal function and blood pressure.