Tacrolimus: 20 Years of Use in Adult Kidney Transplantation. What We Should Know About Its Nephrotoxicity
Tacrolimus (or FK506), a calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) introduced in field of transplantation in the 1990s, is the cornerstone of most immunosuppressive regimens in solid organ transplantation. Its use has revolutionized the future of kidney transplantation (KT) and has been associated with better graft survival, a lower incidence of rejection, and improved drug tolerance with fewer side effects compared to cyclosporine. However, its monitoring remains complicated and underexposure increases the risk of rejection, whereas overexposure increases the risk of adverse effects, primarily nephrotoxicity, neurotoxicity, infections, malignancies, diabetes, and gastrointestinal complaints. Tacrolimus nephrotoxicity can be nonreversible and can lead to kidney graft loss, and its diagnosis is therefore best made with reference to the clinical context and after exclusion of other causes of graft dysfunction. Many factors contribute to its development including: systemic levels of tacrolimus; local renal exposure to tacrolimus; exposure to metabolites of tacrolimus; local susceptibility factors for CNI nephrotoxicity independent of systemic or local tacrolimus levels, such as the age of a kidney; local renal P-glycoprotein, local intestinal and hepatic cytochrome P450A3, and renin angiotensin system activation. The aim of this review is to describe the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and mechanisms of acute and chronic tacrolimus nephrotoxicity in adult KT.
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