Pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and outcome investigations as the basis for mycophenolic acid therapeutic drug monitoring in renal and heart transplant patients

Clin Biochem. 2001 Feb;34(1):17-22. doi: 10.1016/s0009-9120(00)00184-3.


Mycophenolate mofetil is widely used in combination with either cyclosporine or tacrolimus for rejection prophylaxis in renal and heart transplant patients. Although not monitored routinely nearly to the degree that other agents such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus, there is an expanding body of experimental evidence for the utility of monitoring mycophenolic acid, the primary active metabolite of mycophenolate mofetil, plasma concentration as an index of risk for the development of acute rejection. The following are important experimentally-based reasons for recommending the incorporation of target therapeutic concentration monitoring of mycophenolic acid: (1) the MPA dose-interval area-under-the-concentration-time curve, and less precisely, MPA predose concentrations predict the risk for development of acute rejection; (2) the strong correlation between mycophenolic acid plasma concentrations and expression of important cell surface activation antigens, whole blood pharmacodynamic assays of lymphocyte proliferation and median graft rejection scores in a heart transplant animal model; (3) the greater than 10-fold interindividual variation of MPA area under the concentration time curve values in heart and renal transplant patients receiving a fixed dose of the parent drug; (4) drug-drug interactions involving other immunosuppressives are such that when switching from one to another (eg, from cyclosporine to tacrolimus or vice-versa) substantial changes in MPA concentrations can occur in patients receiving a fixed dose of the parent drug; (5) significant effects of liver and kidney diseases on the steady-state total and free mycophenolic acid area under the concentration time curve values; (6) the need to closely monitor mycophenolic acid when a major change in immunosuppression is planned such as steroid withdrawal. Current investigations are focused on determination of the most optimal sampling time and for mycophenolic acid target therapeutic concentration monitoring. Further investigations are needed to evaluate the pharmacologic activity of the newly described acyl glucuronide metabolite of mycophenolic acid which has been shown to inhibit, in vitro, inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Graft Rejection / drug therapy
  • Heart Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Transplantation / methods*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / pharmacokinetics*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / pharmacology
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Mycophenolic Acid