The Role of mTOR Inhibitors in Liver Transplantation: Reviewing the Evidence

J Transplant. 2014;2014:845438. doi: 10.1155/2014/845438. Epub 2014 Feb 25.


Despite the success of liver transplantation, long-term complications remain, including de novo malignancies, metabolic syndrome, and the recurrence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The current mainstay of treatment, calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs), can also worsen posttransplant renal dysfunction, neurotoxicity, and diabetes. Clearly there is a need for better immunosuppressive agents that maintain similar rates of efficacy and renal function whilst minimizing adverse effects. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors with a mechanism of action that is different from other immunosuppressive agents has the potential to address some of these issues. In this review we surveyed the literature for reports of the use of mTOR inhibitors in adult liver transplantation with respect to renal function, efficacy, safety, neurological symptoms, de novo tumors, and the recurrence of HCC and HCV. The results of our review indicate that mTOR inhibitors are associated with efficacy comparable to CNIs while having benefits on renal function in liver transplantation. We also consider newer dosing schedules that may limit side effects. Finally, we discuss evidence that mTOR inhibitors may have benefits in the oncology setting and in relation to HCV-related allograft fibrosis, metabolic syndrome, and neurotoxicity.

Publication types

  • Review