Background: Low tacrolimus concentrations have been associated with higher risk of acute rejection, particularly within African American (AA) kidney transplant recipients; little is known about intrapatient tacrolimus variabilities impact on racial disparities.
Methods: Ten year, single-center, longitudinal cohort study of kidney recipients. Intrapatient tacrolimus variability was assessed using the coefficient of variation (CV) measured between 1 month posttransplant and the clinical event, with a comparable period assessed in those without events. Pediatrics, nontacrolimus/mycophenolate regimens, and nonrenal transplants were excluded. Multivariable Cox regression models were used to analyze data.
Results: One thousand four hundred eleven recipients were included (54.4% AA) with 39 521 concentrations used to assess intrapatient tacrolimus CV. Overall, intrapatient tacrolimus CV was higher in AAs versus non-AAs (39.9 ± 19.8 % vs 34.8 ± 15.8% P < 0.001). Tacrolimus variability was a significant risk factor for deleterious clinical outcomes. A 10% increase in tacrolimus CV augmented the risk of acute rejection by 20% (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.20, 1.13-1.28; P < 0.001) and the risk of graft loss by 30% (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.30, 1.23-1.37; P < 0.001), with significant effect modification by race for acute rejection, but not graft loss. High tacrolimus variability (CV >40%) was a significant explanatory variable for disparities in AAs; the crude relative risk of acute rejection in AAs was reduced by 46% when including tacrolimus variability in modeling and reduced by 40% for graft loss.
Conclusions: These data demonstrate that intrapatient tacrolimus variability is strongly associated with acute rejection in AAs and graft loss in all patients. Tacrolimus variability is a significant explanatory variable for disparities in AA recipients.