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Circulation. 2004 Oct 26;110(17):2694-700. Epub 2004 Jul 19.

Sirolimus in de novo heart transplant recipients reduces acute rejection and prevents coronary artery disease at 2 years: a randomized clinical trial.

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  • 1St Vincent's Hospital, Xavier 4, Victoria St, Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales 2010, Australia.



Sirolimus reduces acute rejection in renal transplant recipients and prevents vasculopathy in nonhuman primates and in-stent restenosis in humans. Its effects on rejection and transplant vasculopathy in human heart transplant recipients are unknown.


In a randomized, open-label study, sirolimus was compared with azathioprine in combination with cyclosporine and steroids administered from the time of cardiac transplantation. We report 6-month rejection rates (primary end point), 12-month safety and efficacy data, and 6- and 24-month graft vasculopathy data in 136 cardiac allograft recipients randomly assigned (2:1) to sirolimus (n=92) or azathioprine (n=44). At 6 months, the proportion of patients with grade 3a or greater acute rejection was 32.4% for sirolimus 3 mg/d (P=0.027), 32.8% for sirolimus 5 mg/d (P=0.013), and 56.8% for azathioprine. Patient survival at 12 months was comparable among groups. Intracoronary ultrasound at 6 weeks, 6 months, and 2 years demonstrated highly significant progression of transplant vasculopathy in azathioprine-treated patients. At 6 months, a highly significant absence of progression in intimal plus medial proliferation and significant protection against luminal encroachment was evident in sirolimus-treated patients, and these effects were sustained at 2 years.


Sirolimus use from the time of transplantation approximately halved the number of patients experiencing acute rejection. The measurable development of transplant vasculopathy at 6 months and 2 years in patients receiving azathioprine was not observed in patients receiving sirolimus.

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