Background: Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is now part of standard immunosuppression in the first phase after renal transplantation. A relevant question is if it can replace drugs such as cyclosporine (CsA) in the maintenance treatment, improving cardiovascular risk profile.
Methods: In 17 patients with a stable renal function (at least 6 months) posttransplantation, we studied the effect of CsA replacement by MMF. After starting MMF (1 g b.i.d.), CsA dosage was reduced from regular to low (median trough level 130 microg/L, respectively, 45 microg/L), followed by complete withdrawal, while prednisone (7.5 mg daily) was continued. We measured ambulatory blood pressure, glomerular filtration rate, renal plasma flow, renal vascular resistance, and metabolic factors at start and after 8 weeks on regular, low-dose CsA, respectively, no CsA with MMF and prednisone.
Results: Two patients dropped out after the switch to low-dose CsA/MMF, due to diarrhea in one and a steroid responsive rejection in the other. The complete switch from CsA to MMF was successful in all 15 patients and accompanied by a decrease in 24 hr systolic blood pressure (from 152+/-13 to 145+/-13 mmHg; P<0.01), diastolic blood pressure (93+/-9 to 89+/-12 mmHg; P<0.05), RVR (0.29+/-0.06 to 0.25+/-0.09 mmHg.ml/min; P<0.05), and an increase in glomerular filtration rate (46.6+/-8.8 to 58.0+/-10.5 ml/min; P<0.01) and renal plasma flow. Intermediate low density lipoprotein-cholesterol decreased (0.79+/-0.37 to 0.41+/-0.16 mmol/L; P<0.01). High density lipoprotein-cholesterol decreased, but remained in the safe range. After 1 year two patients stopped the MMF; one because of Kaposi's sarcoma and one because of recurrent infections
Conclusions: The stepwise switch from CsA to MMF was safe and mostly successful, and had beneficial effects on blood pressure, glomerular hemodynamics, and lipid profile. Beneficial trends were already present after partial withdrawal of CsA.