Background: This study was designed to examine the hypothesis that the nephrotoxicities caused by cyclosporin and tacrolimus might differ in respect of sodium and potassium handling.
Methods: 125 patients were studied retrospectively for the first 90 days after renal transplantation. Eighty were treated initially with cyclosporin and 45 with tacrolimus.
Results: A serum sodium level of <135 mmol/l was present for 542/5171 (10.5%) days under tacrolimus treatment compared with 377/5486 (6.9%) days under cyclosporin treatment (P < 0.0001). Severe hyponatraemia, below 120 mmol/l, was also more prevalent under tacrolimus than cyclosporin treatment, P < 0.025. Nine patients, all receiving tacrolimus, were treated with fludrocortisone for fluid depletion and/or hyponatraemia. Serum potassium levels were higher in tacrolimus-treated patients (P < 0.0001), and subjects with hyponatraemia were more likely to experience hyperkalaemia (P < 0.0001).
Conclusions: Hyponatraemia and hyperkalaemia were more frequent in tacrolimus-treated subjects. Taken together with previous work showing that hyperuricaemia is more frequent with cyclosporin treatment, and hypomagnesaemia with tacrolimus treatment, these findings are consistent with qualitative differences between the nephrotoxicities of cyclosporin and tacrolimus.