Background-We retrospectively analyzed the potential of sirolimus as a primary immunosuppressant in the long-term attenuation of cardiac allograft vasculopathy progression and the effects on cardiac-related morbidity and mortality. Methods and Results-Forty-five cardiac transplant recipients were converted to sirolimus 1.2 years (0.2, 4.0) after transplantation with complete calcineurin inhibitor withdrawal. Fifty-eight control subjects 2.0 years (0.2, 6.5 years) from transplantation were maintained on calcineurin inhibitors. Age, sex, ejection fraction, and time from transplantation to baseline intravascular ultrasound study were not different (P>0.2 for all) between the groups; neither were secondary immunosuppressants and use of steroids. Three-dimensional intravascular ultrasound studies were performed at baseline and 3.1 years (1.3, 4.6 years) later. Plaque index progression (plaque volume/vessel volume) was attenuated in the sirolimus group (0.7±10.5% versus 9.3±10.8%; P=0.0003) owing to reduced plaque volume in patients converted to sirolimus early (<2 years) after transplantation (P=0.05) and improved positive vascular remodeling (P=0.01) in patients analyzed late (>2 years) after transplantation. Outcome analysis in 160 consecutive patients maintained on 1 therapy was performed regardless of performance of intravascular ultrasound examinations. Five-year survival was improved with sirolimus (97.4±1.8% versus 81.8±4.9%; P=0.006), as was freedom from cardiac-related events (93.6±3.2% versus 76.9±5.5%; P=0.002). Conclusions-Substituting calcineurin inhibitor with sirolimus as primary immunosuppressant attenuates long-term cardiac allograft vasculopathy progression and may improve long-term allograft survival owing to favorable coronary remodeling. Because of the lack of randomization and retrospective nature of our analysis, the differences in outcome should be interpreted cautiously, and prospective clinical trials are required.
- heart transplantation
- transplantation, homologous
- ultrasonography, interventional
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
- Physiology (medical)