Tacrolimus based immunosuppression

J Nephrol. Nov-Dec 2004;17 Suppl 8:S25-31.


The safety and efficacy of tacrolimus (Prograf) in renal transplantation is well established. Achieving longterm patient and graft survival are the ultimate goals following transplantation. Many factors negatively impact long-term transplant outcomes, including graft rejection, renal dysfunction and cardiovascular risk factors (hypertension, hyperlipidaemia, and post-transplant diabetes mellitus (PTDM)). Accordingly, careful consideration of the immunosuppressive strategy and its impact on these factors is critical to optimising outcomes. Clinical trials and registry studies conducted over the past decade have demonstrated tacrolimus to be a cornerstone immunosuppressant in renal transplantation. Compared with cyclosporine treatment, tacrolimus has been shown to be associated with decreased acute and chronic rejection, improved renal function over the long-term post-transplant, and a lower incidence of hyperlipidaemia and hypertension. In early studies, the incidence of PTDM was significantly higher in patients receiving tacrolimus; however, recent large clinical trials have revealed no significant between-group differences in the incidence of PTDM with tacrolimus treatment and cyclosporine microemulsion treatment. Together, these findings may translate into improved long-term transplant outcomes with tacrolimus-based immunosuppression. Although approved only for kidney and liver transplantation in the US, Prograf was the calcineurin inhibitor used in the majority of patients transplanted in 2003: kidney (67%), liver (89%), kidney/pancreas (81%), pancreas (77%), lung (65%), heart/lung (48%), and heart (42%).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Graft Rejection / drug therapy
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / physiopathology
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Tacrolimus / adverse effects
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Tacrolimus