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J Heart Lung Transplant. 1998 Aug;17(8):775-81.

European Multicenter Tacrolimus (FK506) Heart Pilot Study: one-year results--European Tacrolimus Multicenter Heart Study Group.

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Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Klinikum Grosshadern, Munich, Germany.



Tacrolimus (FK506) may represent a major advance in the management of allograft rejection after solid organ transplantation. In August 1994 a European heart transplantation pilot study was initiated to assess the efficacy and safety of tacrolimus when administered exclusively through an oral route.


Eighty-two heart transplant recipients were randomized to treatment (2:1 ratio) with either tacrolimus- (n=54) or cyclosporine-based therapy (n=28).


No significant differences were evident between the two treatment groups in either rejection or survival rates at 1 year. Kaplan-Meier estimates of the freedom from rejection were 26.3% and 18.5%, respectively, for the tacrolimus and cyclosporine treatment groups (p=.444). Survival rates were 79.6% and 92.9% (p=.125). At 3 of the 5 centers, patients received antithymocyte globulin during the immediate postoperative period and fared better than those who did not (with acute rejection-free rates of 49.2% and 26.7% for tacrolimus and cyclosporine, respectively [p=.080], as opposed to 7.1% and 8.3% [p=.965]; patient survival rates of 84.6% and 93.3% [p=.382] vs 75.0% and 92.3% [p=.243]). The overall rates of infection, impaired renal function (31.5% vs 21.4%), and glucose intolerance (7.0% vs 4.3%) did not differ significantly between the tacrolimus and cyclosporine treatment groups. Tacrolimus seemed to possess an advantage with regard to a reduced requirement for antihypertensive therapy (59.5% vs 87.5%, p=.025).


Immunosuppression with oral tacrolimus provides a viable alternative to treatment with cyclosporine, particularly when administered in conjunction with antibody therapy. Further studies are warranted to optimize the administration of tacrolimus in this indication.

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