The aim of this study was to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of tacrolimus (Tac) and cyclosporine immunosuppression in pediatric liver transplantation (LTx).
Methods: One hundred fifty-six patients who had taken part in a multicenter, randomized, open, parallel study of Tac and corticosteroids versus cyclosporine A microemulsion (CyA-ME), corticosteroids, and azathioprine. Patients were assessed at regular intervals up to 14 y after LTx. Analysis was conducted descriptively.
Results: In a long-term follow-up, there was a similar incidence of acute rejection (Tac versus CyA-ME, 5 versus 8) and graft loss (5 versus 10). There were 11 deaths in the cohort, which were from infectious complications/malignancy in the Tac group (n = 2/5) and from chronic rejection/liver failure in the CyA-ME group (n = 3/6). A similar incidence of Epstein-Barr virus and posttransplant lymphoproliferative disease was observed (8 versus 8, 3 versus 3). However, there was a greater incidence of cosmetic adverse events in the CyA-ME cohort, with higher incidences of hypertrichosis (8 versus 27) and gum hyperplasia (20 versus 6). Growth improved equally in both groups. Overall, 81% of patients randomized to Tac remained on Tac therapy at study end, compared with 31% of patients randomized to CyA-ME. Common reasons for switching from CyA-ME included steroid-resistant/acute rejection (n = 12/8) and cosmetic changes (n = 8).
Conclusions: This study is the first prospective, observational follow-up study of pediatric patients randomized to Tac and CyA-ME to evaluate long-term outcomes. Our analysis was limited by the degree of switchover between the cohorts; however, there were fewer deaths from chronic rejection/liver failure and reduced adverse events with Tac. Long-term use of Tac and Tac combination therapy appears to be safe and effective immunosuppression for pediatric LTx recipients.