Introduction: Calcineurin inhibitors may be associated with decreased arterial elasticity and increased vascular risk. We measured pulse wave velocity (PWV) in large or small arteries as an index of elasticity. The aim of our study was to determine aortic and radial arterial elasticity in 30 stable kidney transplant patients treated with calcineurin inhibitor immunosuppression.
Patients and methods: In stable kidney transplant patients we determined the usual biochemical parameters as well as lipid profiles, 24-hour blood pressure (BP) monitoring (CBPM) using a chronobiological program (Garapa), and PWV with a HDI-PWV CR-2000 monitor.
Results: Sixteen patients received cyclosporine (CsA, G-1) and 14 tacrolimus (G-2) immunosuppression. There were no baseline differences regarding age (G-1: 56 +/- 12 years, G-2: 56 +/- 14 years), renal transplant follow-up (G-1: 7 +/- 3 years, G-2: 7.5 +/- 3 years), Systolic BP, pulse pressure or plasma creatinine (G-1: 163 +/- 35 umol/L, G-2: 173 +/- 26 umol/L). Patients in the G-1 showed higher diastolic BP (79 +/- 11 vs 74 +/- 8 mm Hg), greater proteinuria (1.26 +/- 0.4 vs 0.6 +/- 0.2 g/d, P < .05), total cholesterol (5.51 +/- 1.2 mmol/L) and low-density lipoprotein (3.08 +/- 0.3 vs 2.99 +/- 0.3 mmol/L, P = NS). Aortic arterial elasticity was decreased in G-1 patients (10.4 +/- 6 vs 14.3 +/- 2 mL/mm Hg x10, P < .05) as well as that in the radial artery (G-1: 5.52 +/- 1 vs 5.57 +/- 1.2 mL/mm Hg x100, P = NS). Almost 100% of the patients presented normal diurnal BP with high nocturnal BP in a nondipper pattern in both groups.
Conclusion: Calcineurin immunosuppression may contribute to arterial stiffness in kidney transplant patients. No differences between CsA or tacrolimus were observed in our study. CBPM and PWV are useful tools to evaluate subclinical atherosclerosis in renal transplant patients.