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Can J Gastroenterol. 2004 Oct;18 Suppl C:27C-40C.

Renal dysfunction in liver transplantation: the problem and preventive strategies.

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  • 1Multi-Organ Transplant Program, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada.


Ongoing improvements in survival following liver transplantation have necessitated a re-evaluation of immunosuppression protocols. Corticosteroids and calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) are the most frequently used immunosuppressive drugs for liver transplantation but are associated with a wide range of adverse effects, such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia and nephrotoxicity. The need for hemodialysis after liver transplantation is associated with poor outcomes. Renal dysfunction in this setting may be caused by pre-existing renal disease, hepatorenal syndrome and/or post-transplant factors, including the use of nephrotoxic drugs, most notably CNIs such as cyclosporine and tacrolimus. The methods that address this problem include the diligent control of metabolic factors (eg, hypertension and hyperlipidemia), therapeutic monitoring of CNIs and withdrawal or reduction of the dosage of CNIs, combined with the use of newer non-nephrotoxic agents. Although there is no clear consensus about the most effective strategy, the optimal long-term immunosuppressive regimen would prevent rejection without causing nephrotoxicity or other significant adverse effects. Recent evidence suggests that the liver is a tolerogenic organ and that some patients may need little, if any, long-term immunosuppression.

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