Results of ASERTAA, a Randomized Prospective Crossover Pharmacogenetic Study of Immediate-Release Versus Extended-Release Tacrolimus in African American Kidney Transplant Recipients

Am J Kidney Dis. 2018 Mar;71(3):315-326. doi: 10.1053/j.ajkd.2017.07.018. Epub 2017 Nov 20.


Background: Differences in tacrolimus dosing across ancestries is partly attributable to polymorphisms in CYP3A5 genes that encode tacrolimus-metabolizing cytochrome P450 3A5 enzymes. The CYP3A5*1 allele, preponderant in African Americans, is associated with rapid metabolism, subtherapeutic concentrations, and higher dose requirements for tacrolimus, all contributing to worse outcomes. Little is known about the relationship between CYP3A5 genotype and the tacrolimus pharmacokinetic area under the curve (AUC) profile in African Americans or whether pharmacogenetic differences exist between conventional twice-daily, rapidly absorbed, immediate-release tacrolimus (IR-Tac) and once-daily extended-release tacrolimus (LifeCycle Pharma Tac [LCPT]) with a delayed absorption profile.

Study design: Randomized prospective crossover study.

Setting & participants: 50 African American maintenance kidney recipients on stable IR-Tac dosing.

Intervention: Recipients were randomly assigned to continue IR-Tac on days 1 to 7 and then switch to LCPT on day 8 or receive LCPT on days 1 to 7 and then switch to IR-Tac on day 8. The LCPT dose was 85% of the IR-Tac total daily dose.

Outcomes: Tacrolimus 24-hour AUC (AUC0-24), peak and trough concentrations (Cmax and Cmin), time to peak concentration, and bioavailability of LCPT versus IR-Tac, according to CYP3A5 genotype.

Measurements: CYP3A5 genotype, 24-hour tacrolimus pharmacokinetic profiles.

Results: ∼80% of participants carried the CYP3A5*1 allele (CYP3A5 expressers). There were no significant differences in AUC0-24 or Cmin between CYP3A5 expressers and nonexpressers during administration of either IR-Tac or LCPT. With IR-Tac, tacrolimus Cmax was 33% higher in CYP3A5 expressers compared with nonexpressers (P=0.04): With LCPT, this difference was 11% (P=0.4).

Limitations: This was primarily a pharmacogenetic study rather than an efficacy study; the follow-up period was too short to capture clinical outcomes.

Conclusions: Achieving therapeutic tacrolimus trough concentrations with IR-Tac in most African Americans results in significantly higher peak concentrations, potentially magnifying the risk for toxicity and adverse outcomes. This pharmacogenetic effect is attenuated by delayed tacrolimus absorption with LCPT.

Trial registration: Registered at, with study number NCT01962922.

Keywords: African American ancestry; CYP3A5 allele; Immunosuppression; drug absorption; genetic differences; genotype; kidney transplantation; pharmacogenetics; pharmacokinetics; randomized clinical trial; tacrolimus; tacrolimus dosing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Black or African American / genetics
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / drug effects
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A / genetics*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Kidney Transplantation / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Pharmacogenetics
  • Postoperative Care / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cytochrome P-450 CYP3A
  • Tacrolimus

Associated data