Purpose: Successful small bowel transplantation requires effective immunosuppression that preserves intestinal function but avoids opportunistic infection. This study aims to evaluate FK506 as a single immunosuppressant in different pretreatment regimens in a rat high responder strain combination.
Methods: Lewis --> DA rat heterotopic small bowel transplantation was performed. Studied groups were (1) untreated control, n = 12; (2) FK-1, n = 8; (3) FK-3, n = 8. FK506 (2 mg/kg/d, intramuscularly) was given to the recipients for 1 day (FK-1) and 3 days (FK-3) before small bowel transplantation, followed by 2 weeks of subtherapeutic treatment (0.3 mg/kg/d, intramuscularly) after small bowel transplantation. Syngeneic small bowel transplantation also was performed (n = 8). FK blood levels, maltose absorption test, histology, and bacteriology were performed at different postoperative days.
Results: Allograft survival was prolonged significantly with FK pretreatment, being more so in FK-3 group (FK-1, 22.2 +/- 1.5 d; FK-3, 40.7 +/- 14.1 d; control, 6.6 +/- 0.8 d; P< .01). In the first postoperative week, FK blood level was significantly higher in FK-3 group (19.8 +/- 1.5 ng/mL) than in FK-1 group (5.0 +/- 0.4 ng/mL; P < .05). There was no evidence of systemic infection in either FK-treated group. For maltose absorption, control allograft was abnormal on day 7 correlating to severely damaged intestinal architecture. In contrast, FK-treated allografts showed well-protected intestinal structure and normal absorption on days 7 and 21.
Conclusion: High FK506 blood levels in the first postoperative week, achieved with FK pretreatment, prolonged intestinal allograft survival and preserved intestinal structure and function without allowing systemic infection.