Cyclosporine A versus tacrolimus in combination with mycophenolate mofetil and steroids as primary immunosuppression after lung transplantation: one-year results of a 2-center prospective randomized trial

J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2003 Apr;125(4):891-900. doi: 10.1067/mtc.2003.71.


Objectives: Cyclosporine (INN: ciclosporin) A or tacrolimus have been used mostly in combination with azathioprine as primary immunosuppression after lung transplantation. Benefit or risk deriving from the combination with mycophenolate mofetil are yet unknown.

Methods: In a prospective, 2-center, open randomized trial, the combination of cyclosporine A, mycophenolate mofetil, and steroids was compared with tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, and steroids as primary therapy after primary lung transplantation. All patients underwent induction therapy with rabbit antithymocyte globulin for 3 days. The 2 groups were compared with regard to patient survival, freedom from acute rejection, bronchiolitis obliterans, infectious episodes, and side effects.

Results: Between September 1997 and April 1999, 74 lung transplant recipients were randomized to receive either cyclosporine A (n = 37) or tacrolimus (n = 37). Groups were comparable with regard to age, sex, transplant procedure, and cytomegalovirus match. Mean follow-up was 507 +/- 258 and 508 +/- 248 days, respectively. Six- and 12-month survival was similar in both groups (89% vs 84% and 82% vs 71%, respectively; P =.748 at 12 months). Two patients from the cyclosporine A group were retransplanted. Freedom from acute rejection at 6 and 12 months was comparable between groups (46% vs 51% and 35% vs 46%, respectively; P =.774 at 12 months). The mean number of treated acute rejection episodes per 100 patient-days was higher in the cyclosporine A than in the tacrolimus group, but the difference was not statistically significant (0.32 +/- 0.42 vs 0.22 +/- 0.30, respectively; P =.097). Four patients from the cyclosporine A group had to be switched to tacrolimus to control ongoing rejection, whereas no patient from the tacrolimus group had to be switched to cyclosporine A. There was a trend toward more infections (0.7 +/- 0.36 vs 0.55 +/- 0.31, P =.059) in the cyclosporine A group. New-onset diabetes mellitus was observed in the tacrolimus group only (11% vs 0%, P =.151), whereas there was a higher incidence of hypertension (60% vs 11%, P =.03) in the cyclosporine A group.

Conclusion: This 2-center, prospective randomized study showed high immunosuppressive potency of both cyclosporine A and tacrolimus in combination with mycophenolate mofetil. No significant difference in incidence of acute rejection was observed between the 2 groups. Moreover, survival and incidence of infection were similar. Incidence of drug-related adverse events were similar, yet their spectrum was different.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cyclosporine / administration & dosage*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Graft Rejection / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Lung Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Lung Transplantation / immunology*
  • Lung Transplantation / mortality
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycophenolic Acid / administration & dosage*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Survival Rate
  • Tacrolimus / administration & dosage*
  • Time Factors


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Mycophenolic Acid
  • Tacrolimus
  • Methylprednisolone