Background: Corticosteroid-free maintenance immunosuppression after organ transplantation eliminates the well-known corticosteroid-related side effects and may help to improve long-term outcome. We investigated whether a corticosteroid-free tacrolimus (Tac)/mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) regimen, in combination with daclizumab (Dac) induction therapy, provides adequate immunosuppression after renal transplantation.
Methods: This 6-month, open-label, multicenter, parallel-group study involved 538 renal patients randomized (1:1) to a Dac/Tac/MMF regimen (n = 260) or a Tac/MMF/corticosteroids regimen (n = 278) as a control group.
Results: Of the patients who completed the study, 88.8% in the Dac/Tac/MMF group were free from corticosteroid therapy at month 6. The incidence of biopsy-proven acute rejection was 16.5% in both treatment groups; the incidence of biopsy-proven corticosteroid-resistant acute rejection was 4.3% and 5.0% with Tac/MMF/corticosteroids and Dac/Tac/MMF, respectively (P = NS for both comparisons). Renal function was also similar in both groups: median serum creatinine at month 6 was 125.0 micromol/L (Tac/MMF/corticosteroids) and 131.0 microml/L (Dac/Tac/MMF), P = 0.277. The overall safety profile was similar with both regimens. However, compared with the Tac/MMF/steroid regimen, a significantly reduced incidence of new-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (5.4% vs. 0.4%, P = 0.003) was found with steroid-free immunosuppression. Moreover, mean total cholesterol concentrations increased from baseline in the Tac/MMF/corticosteroids group by 0.19 mmol/L, whereas in the Dac/Tac/MMF group, levels decreased by 0.19 mmol/L, P = 0.005.
Conclusions: Corticosteroid-free immunosuppression with a Dac/Tac/MMF regimen is as effective at preventing acute rejection after renal transplantation as a standard triple regimen of Tac/MMF/corticosteroids. Furthermore, the safety benefits reported with Dac/Tac/MMF treatment may help improve the long-term outcome for renal-transplant patients.