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Keywords:

  • Adverse effects;
  • graft survival;
  • immuno-suppression;
  • kidney transplantation;
  • nephrotoxicity;
  • pathology

Calcineurin inhibitors have decreased acute rejection and improved early renal allograft survival, but their use has been implicated in the development of chronic nephrotoxicity. We performed a prospective, randomized trial in kidney transplantation comparing sirolimus-MMF-prednisone to tacrolimus-MMF-prednisone. Eighty-one patients in the sirolimus group and 84 patients in the tacrolimus group were enrolled (mean follow-up = 33 months; range 13–47 months). At 1 year, patient survival was similar in the groups (98% with sirolimus, 96% with tacrolimus; p = 0.42) as was graft survival (94% sirolimus vs. 92% tacrolimus, p = 0.95). The incidence of clinical acute rejection was 10% in the tacrolimus group and 13% in the sirolimus group (p = 0.58). There was no difference in mean GFR measured by iothalamate clearance between the tacrolimus and sirolimus groups at 1 year (61 ± 19 mL/min vs. 63 ± 18 mL/min, p = 0.57) or 2 years (61 ± 17 mL/min vs. 61 ± 19 mL/min, p = 0.84). At 1 year, chronicity using the Banff schema showed no difference in interstitial, tubular or glomerular changes, but fewer chronic vascular changes in the sirolimus group. This study shows that a CNI-free regimen using sirolimus-MMF-prednisone produces similar acute rejection rates, graft survival and renal function 1–2 years after transplantation compared to tacrolimus-MMF-prednisone.