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J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 1996 Apr;111(4):764-72.

A prospective trial of tacrolimus (FK 506) in clinical heart transplantation: intermediate-term results.

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Department of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA, USA.


Between January 1, 1989, and December 31, 1994, we have treated 122 primary heart recipients with FK 506 (group I) and 121 with cyclosporine (group II). Fifty patients in the cyclosporine (CyA) group received no lympholytic induction (CyA alone) and 71 others received lympholytic induction with either rabbit antithymocyte globulin or OKT3 (CyA+LI). The mean follow-up was longer in the FK 506 group than in the CyA groups (3.2 +/- 1.3 vs 2.3 +/- 1.8 years; p< 0.01). Patient survival did not differ on the basis of the type of immunosuppression used. At 3 months after transplantation, the freedom from rejection in the FK 506 group was higher than that of the CyA-alone group (47% vs 22%, p < 0.01) but similar to that of the CyA+LI group (47% vs 53%). The linearized rejection rate (episodes/100 patient-days) of the FK 506 group (0.09 episodes) was lower (p < 0.05) than that of the CyA-alone group (0.26) and the CyA+LI group (0.13). The requirement for pulsed steroids to treat rejection was less in common in the FK 506 group than in either CyA group. Eighteen patients in the CyA group had refractory rejections; all resolved with FK 506 rescue. Two patients in the FK 506 group had refractory rejection that resolved with total lymphoid irradiation (n=1) and methotrexate therapy (n=1). Patients receiving FK 506 had a lower risk of hypertension and required a lower dose of steroids. Although the mean serum creatinine concentration at 1 year was higher in the FK 506 group, this difference disappeared after 2 years. No patients required discontinuation of FK 506 because of its side effects. Our intermediate-term results indicate that FK 506 compares favorably with CyA as a primary immunosuppressant in heart transplantation.

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