A quality of life comparison in cyclosporine- and tacrolimus-treated renal transplant recipients across Canada

J Nephrol. May-Jun 2010;23(3):274-81.


Background: Many Canadian renal transplant recipients receive either cyclosporine or tacrolimus as a long-term immunosuppressive agent. We investigated the effect of these drugs on quality of life (QoL) in Canadian transplant recipients.

Methods: We included adult single-organ recipients undergoing a transplant between July 1997 and March 2005, whose graft function was =18 months, recruited across 13 Canadian sites including 5 transplant centers (TCs) and 8 satellite centers (SCs). Patients were stratified 3:1 by cyclosporine vs. tacrolimus based on calcineurin inhibitor(s) (CNIs) received at 6 months posttransplant and matched 1:1 by TC vs. SC. Physical (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores measured by the SF-12 scale for cyclosporine- and tacrolimus-treated recipients were compared. Patient opinions about their perceived CNI-related side effects captured by categorical questions or a numerical Likert scale (1-10) were compared by chi-square test or ANOVA, respectively.

Results: There were 231 participants (124 cyclosporine, 43 tacrolimus and 64 with dual experience) who responded to both questionnaires. Their SF-12-measured PCS and MCS scores were similar (PCS 42.0, 43.0 and 41.4, p=0.705; MCS 50.3, 47.8 and 47.1, p=0.115; respectively). However, patients receiving tacrolimus more strongly preferred to continue on this CNI than those receiving cyclosporine (67.4% vs. 44.4%, p=0.009), while more patients on cyclosporine wished to stop taking it (23.4 vs. 2.3%, p=0.004). Patient preference for CNI did not differ by center type.

Conclusion: QoL among Canadian renal transplant recipients receiving cyclosporine or tacrolimus is similar. Although Canadian recipients prefer tacrolimus, CNI type does not significantly affect their QoL.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Transplantation / psychology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life*
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Tacrolimus