Purpose: Calcineurin inhibitors (CNI) associated nephrotoxicity remains a risk factor for long-term graft dysfunction after renal transplantation. Everolimus is a mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitor and exhibits synergistic immunosuppressive activity with CNI to permit CNI-reduction. We conducted a systematic review to compare the efficacy of everolimus-based CNI sparing and standard CNI regimens in renal transplantation recipients.
Methods: We searched PubMed and Web of Science databases to identify relevant randomized controlled trials. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR), biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR), death or graft loss and incidence of adverse events were the major estimates of renal function, efficacy, and tolerability of the two regimens.
Results: Seven studies providing data for 2,067 patients were included. Six of the seven studies used cyclosporine as the CNI. The patients were divided into two groups: everolimus-based CNI sparing (elimination and minimization) group and standard CNI group. Everolimus-based regimen was associated with increased GFR [P = 0.02; weighted mean difference (WMD) 4.83 mL/min], decreased serum creatinine (P = 0.004; WMD -9.94 μmol/L) and no more death or graft loss [P = 0.72; relative risk (RR) 1.07]. CNI-minimization was not associated with increased BPAR (P = 0.25; RR 0.85) while CNI-elimination was associated with more BPAR Grade 1 (P < 0.00001; RR 4.20). Use of everolimus reduced the risk of CMV infection (P = 0.0002; RR 0.47). There was a higher risk of discontinuation of everolimus (P < 0.00001; RR 1.69) and non-fatal adverse events (P < 0.00001; RR 1.73) in patients on the everolimus based CNI sparing regimens.
Conclusions: Everolimus-based CNI sparing regimen could optimize long-term graft function without leading to more death or graft loss. Although CNI elimination was associated with higher risk of BPAR, everolimus use with CNI minimization did not increase the risk of acute rejections. Use of everolimus was associated with reduction in the incidence of CMV infection, but there was a higher risk of discontinuation of this drug and other non-fatal adverse events.