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Ther Drug Monit. 1996 Dec;18(6):706-9.

Comparative analysis of tacrolimus (FK506) in whole blood liver transplant recipients by PRO-TRAC enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and microparticle enzyme immunoassay IMX methods.

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Department of Toxicology, Hospital Clinic, Barcelona, Spain.


The macrolide tacrolimus (FK506) is a powerful immunosuppressive drug that acts early in the T-cell activation process and inhibits cytokine gene transcription. Data from several trials in liver transplantation have shown the efficacy of tacrolimus in the prevention of allograft rejection and its potent hepatotrophic effect, which could explain its great success in liver transplantation. However, tacrolimus is not devoid of adverse effects (mainly nephrotoxicity and neurotoxicity) requiring careful blood level monitoring, which is an essential aid in the adjustment of drug dosing. Several methods of analysis are available to measure tacrolimus in whole blood. A new assay based on the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) technology has been developed. The INCSTAR PRO-TRAC FK506 is a sensitive immunoassay (range, 0.5 to 60 ng/ml), which uses a mouse monoclonal antibody to FK506. Samples are extracted into methanol and dried under nitrogen. The reconstituted extracts are analyzed by ELISA by using 2-h incubation. The aim of this study was to evaluate the ELISA method in routine monitoring of liver transplant patients and to compare the whole blood results with those obtained by Abbott microparticle enzyme immunoassay (MEIA) IMx. Precision studies with 20 samples from 4.37 and 17.1 ng/ml gave within-run total coefficients of variance of 14.4 and 17.4%, respectively. A total of 63 blood samples was analyzed. The mean +/- SD were 9.68 +/- 5.92 and 10.52 +/- 7.54 ng/ml by ELISA and MEIA assays, respectively. There was an acceptable correlation between the methods: ELISA = 1.419 + 0.785 MEIA; Sy x x = 2.639; r = 0.804. Serial tacrolimus measurements (n = 13) in two patients with bilirubin levels > 20 mg/dl yielded mean +/- SD (range) of 11.64 +/- 7.59 ng/ml (2.60-25.40 ng/ml) and 15.55 +/- 10.78 ng/ml (3.60-34.4 ng/mL) by ELISA and MEIA assays, respectively. These discrepancies in concentrations can result from variation in matrix or different cross-reactivities or both in the two tests. We concluded that the INCSTAR PRO-TRAC FK506 is suitable for routine whole blood tacrolimus monitoring.

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