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Keywords:

  • Graft survival;
  • late acute rejection;
  • long-term outcomes;
  • patient survival

Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) used in a triple-drug regimen has been shown to decrease acute rejection rates, compared to a double-drug regimen. The impact of MMF on late acute rejection (LAR) episodes has not been well described.

To investigate the risk of LAR (rejection ≥6 months post-transplantation) data from the Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients (SRTR) were used. We studied adult primary liver transplant recipients transplanted between June 1, 1995, and April 30, 2004, with hepatitis C virus (HCV) (n = 3356), hepatitis B virus (HBV) (n = 550) or a nonviral (n = 5740) primary cause of liver disease who were recorded as receiving continuous 3-(MMF + Tacro + steroids) versus 2-drug (Tacro + steroids) therapy for at least 6 months immediately post transplantation.

Kaplan–Meier analysis showed significantly lower LAR rates 4 years post-transplant in 3- versus 2-drug HCV, HBV and nonviral disease patients. Multivariate regression confirmed 3- versus 2-drug therapy to be associated with a decreased risk of LAR. Late graft survival was significantly lower at 4 years post-transplant for patients with LAR 6–12 months post-transplantation versus patients with early rejection (78.0% vs. 87.0%, p < 0.001) and no rejection (88.1%, p < 0.001).

Three-drug versus 2-drug therapy for a minimum of 6 months may offer a better treatment strategy to avoid the consequences and expense of LAR episodes.