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Transplant Proc. 2004 Sep;36(7):2068-70.

Safety of mycophenolate mofetil versus azathioprine in renal transplantation: a systematic review.

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  • 1Department of Urology, the Lab of Transplant Engineering and Immunology, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu, People's Republic of China.



To evaluate the safety of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) versus azathioprine (Aza) in renal transplantation, we compared their side effects using evidence-based methods.


Medline, Embase, Cochrane library, and Chinese Biomedicine database (CBM) were searched to select randomized clinical trials that had one group using MMF and another group using Aza as an immunosuppressive drugs. Safety analysis consist of the following factors: diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, constipation, CMV infection, leukopenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia or skin malignancy. RevMan 4.11 software was used for the systematic review analysis.


Twenty trials including 6387 patients were identified. The diarrhea incidence with MMF (3 g/d) was higher than for Aza at 1 and 3 years (P < .05). Diarrhea on MMF (2 g/d) was higher than for Aza within 6 months (P < .05). CMV infection incidence on MMF (3 g/d) was higher than for Aza's at 3 years (P < .05), but MMF (2 g/d) did not show a statistical significance compared with Aza. Leukopenia incidence on MMF (3 g/d) was higher than that on Aza, whereas the incidence with MMF (2 g/d) was not significantly different from Aza. Skin malignancy incidence showed no statistical difference between MMF 3 g/d, MMF 2 g/d, or Aza.


The use of MMF is associated with slight increases in gastrointestinal adverse effects, some hematologic adverse events, and CMV infections compared with Aza. Larger sample sizes of randomized controlled trials are needed to evaluate the safety of MMF.

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