Background: Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in renal recipients. In addition to steroids, cyclosporine A (CsA) has been implicated in contributing to increased cardiovascular risk. Conversion from CsA to tacrolimus (TAC) has been shown to improve hyperlipidemia and hypertension, but little is known about the differential effects of CsA versus TAC on other cardiovascular risk factors. We investigated overall cardiovascular risk profile after conversion from CsA to TAC.
Methods: This was an open-label, single-arm prospective study; 22 adult renal recipients who were receiving CsA-based immunosuppression with serum total cholesterol greater than 200 mg/dL more than 1 year after transplantation were enrolled. CsA was replaced by TAC. Blood pressure, fasting lipid profile, homocysteine, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1c, and creatinine were measured at baseline and at 3 and 6 months after conversion.
Results: There was a significant improvement in fibrinogen (366 +/- 81 - 316 +/- 65 mg/dL, P <0.001), total cholesterol (250 +/- 50 - 207 +/- 29 mg/dL, P <0.001), and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (155 +/- 43 - 121 +/- 24 mg/dL, P <0.001) after conversion. No new onset or worsening of diabetes mellitus was observed after conversion. There were no significant differences in HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, homocysteine, C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1c levels, serum creatinine, mean blood pressure, and mean number of antihypertensive medications required before and after conversion.
Conclusions: Our results indicate that conversion to low-dose TAC may be preferable over CsA for chronic maintenance immunosuppression because it improves the overall cardiovascular risk profile without any apparent adverse effects.