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J Am Coll Surg. 1996 Aug;183(2):117-25.

The Pittsburgh randomized trial of tacrolimus compared to cyclosporine for hepatic transplantation.

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  • 1Pittsburgh Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA, USA.



Tacrolimus (formerly FK506) was first used clinically in 1989 to successfully replace cyclosporine in hepatic transplant recipients who were experiencing intractable rejection or as the baseline drug from the time of operation. After extensive pilot experience, an institutional review board-mandated clinical trial comparing cyclosporine with tacrolimus was performed.


From February 16, 1990 to December 26, 1991, 154 patients were recruited. The competing drugs were combined with equal induction doses of prednisone in both arms of the study for the first 81 patients and with subsequently higher doses of prednisone in the remaining 35 patients who received cyclosporine and were entered into the trial. Drug crossover was permitted for lack of efficacy or adverse events. End points were rejection confirmed by biopsy and treatment failure leading to retransplantation or death.


Seventy-nine patients were randomized to the tacrolimus arm and 75 to the cyclosporine arm during 1990 and 1991. All patients were available for follow-up throughout the trial, which terminated on May 30, 1995. The mean duration of follow-up was four years. Patients randomized to the tacrolimus arm were less likely to experience acute rejection than were those receiving cyclosporine, with 36.2 percent of the patients receiving tacrolimus and 16.8 percent of the patients receiving cyclosporine showing freedom from rejection at one year (p = 0.003, likelihood ratio test). Survival of patients over the course of the study was virtually the same in the two groups.

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