Effect of time of meal consumption on bioavailability of a single oral 5 mg tacrolimus dose

J Clin Pharmacol. 2001 Mar;41(3):289-97. doi: 10.1177/00912700122010104.


Tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf) is marketed for the prophylaxis of organ rejection following allogenic liver or kidney transplantation. This study investigated the effect of timing of a standardized breakfast meal on both the rate and extent of tacrolimus absorption following a single 5 mg oral dose. The protocol used a randomized, open-label, four-period, four-treatment, four-sequence crossover design in 16 healthy, nonsmoking, drug-free male subjects between the ages of 22 and 45 years who were within 15% of their ideal body weight. The four treatments were the following: (A) fasting for 10 hours, (B) ingestion 1 hour before breakfast, (C) ingestion immediately following consumption of the breakfast, and (D) ingestion 1.5 hours after beginning consumption of the breakfast. The breakfast, which was consumed over 15 minutes, contained 848 kcal, with 30%, 16%, and 54% of calories derived from fat, protein, and carbohydrate, respectively. Tacrolimus absorption in the fasting state provided the greatest relative bioavailability (p < 0.05 compared with all other three treatments). AUC(0-infinity)) averaged 312, 276, 205, and 203 ng x h/mL for treatments A, B, C and D, respectively. In contradistinction to taking the drug 1 hour prior to a meal, which had a relatively minor impact on the relative extent of absorption (approximately 12%) compared to the fasting state, ingestion of tacrolimus immediately after a meal (treatment C) or 1.5 hours subsequent to a meal (treatment D) had a more pronounced influence. Mean AUC(0-infinity) ratios (fasting to either postmeal treatments) were approximately 1.5, indicating that absorption extent was considerably reduced by ingesting tacrolimus capsules immediately after eating or 1.5 hours thereafter. Absorption was also prolonged following drug ingestion after a meal, as indicated by a mean tmax value in the fasting state of 1.84 hours, relative to 3.41 hours (immediately aftermeal, p = 0.0035) and 3.22 hours (1.5 hours postmeal, p = 0.0094). The only discernable difference in parameters between treatments C and D was with Cmax, with values of 7.19 and 9.04 ng/mL, respectively, but was not statistically significantly different (p = 0.231). Based on these results and those from a prior study, it is recommended that under therapeutic conditions, oral tacrolimus be administered in a consistent manner, both with respect to the type of meal as well as timing of ingestion relative to consumption of the meal.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Biological Availability
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Eating / physiology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fasting / blood
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / blood
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tacrolimus / adverse effects
  • Tacrolimus / blood
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacokinetics*
  • Time Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Tacrolimus