We report on the efficacy and safety of FK506 (tacrolimus) compared with a cyclosporine (CsA)-based immunosuppressive regimen after 1 year of treatment in pediatric liver allograft recipients (< 12 years) participating in a multicenter U.S. randomized trial. Patients received either FK506 or CsA as primary immunosuppression following a first ABO-compatible liver transplant. Intravenous FK506 was initiated at 0.1 mg/kg per day, followed by oral FK506 beginning at 0.3 mg/kg per day. The dose was adjusted to maintain plasma trough levels of 0.5-2.0 ng/ml. The CsA group was treated according to each center’s usual protocol. Both groups received the same initial doses of corticosteroids. All rejection episodes were biopsy-proven and a standardized algorithm was adopted for the treatment of rejection. Thirty patients were randomized to the FK506 group and 20 to the CsA group. After twelve months of follow-up 20 patients remained in the FK506 group and 13 in the CsA group. Patient survivals were 80% and graft survival 70% in the FK506 group compared with 81% and 71% respectively, in the CsA group. 48% of the FK506 group remained rejection-free compared with 21% of the CsA group, and 79% of FK506-treated patients did not require OKT3 compared with 68% of CsA treated patients. The cumulative corticosteroid dose was less at each time point throughout the first year in the FK506 group. The incidence of serious and minor infections was similar in both groups. Nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity, and gastrointestinal disturbances were the major tox-icities reported. Differences did not reach statistical significance between the two groups although major neurologic events, diarrhea and dyspepsia were more often reported in the FK506 group. There was no difference in mean serum creatinine at 12 months between the two groups. There was a tendency toward lower mean serum cholesterol in the FK506 group. There was no hirsuitism in the FK506 group compared with a 30% incidence in the CsA group. In conclusion, compared with CsA, there is a trend toward less rejection in FK506-treated pediatric allograft recipients, while both drugs have a similar spectrum of side effects.
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