Tacrolimus dosage requirements after initiation of azole antifungal therapy in pediatric thoracic organ transplantation

Pediatr Transplant. 2003 Dec;7(6):474-8. doi: 10.1046/j.1397-3142.2003.00103.x.


Azole antifungals inhibit the metabolism of tacrolimus mediated by CYP3A4. Upon initiation of azole therapy, the required dose reduction of tacrolimus is unknown. We reviewed our experience with azole antifungals in our pediatric thoracic transplant population receiving tacrolimus. Tacrolimus levels and dosage requirements were compared before and during azole therapy. Thirty-one patients received both tacrolimus and an azole antifungal (fluconazole = 9, itraconazole = 22). The tacrolimus dose was empirically reduced by approximately one-third when azole therapy was initiated. Mean tacrolimus dose requirements decreased by 68% within the first month of therapy (pre-azole: 0.27 +/- 0.14 mg/kg/day; 30 day post-azole: 0.087 +/- 0.069 mg/kg/day; p < 0.001). Despite a mean decrease in tacrolimus dose from baseline of 33, 42, and 55% on day 1, 2, and 4 of azole therapy, respectively, there was still an unintended 38% increase in tacrolimus levels during the first month of azole therapy. A calculated dose-reduction protocol of 50% on day of azole initiation, 70% on day 3, and 75% on day 14 should result in minimal mean changes in the tacrolimus levels. There was no difference in tacrolimus dose reduction between fluconazole and itraconazole groups. Azole antifungals markedly decrease tacrolimus requirements within the first few days of therapy. An initial reduction in tacrolimus dose by one-third is insufficient, and dose reduction of at least 50% upon azole initiation seems warranted. Once azole antifungal therapy is initiated, frequent therapeutic drug monitoring is required.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fluconazole / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Itraconazole / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Mycoses / prevention & control*
  • Organ Transplantation*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tacrolimus / administration & dosage*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Itraconazole
  • Fluconazole
  • Tacrolimus