Korean J Transplant.  2022 Nov;36(Supple 1):S362. 10.4285/ATW2022.F-5022.

Clinical association between tacrolimus intra-patient variability and liver transplantation outcomes in patients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma

  • 1Department of Transplantation Surgery, Severance Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea


Tacrolimus is the mainstay of immunosuppression in liver transplantation to prevent rejection. However, the clinical use of tacrolimus is complicated by its narrow therapeutic window and significant intra-patient variability (IPV). High tacrolimus IPV is associated with overexposure and adverse effects, including malignancy. The effects of tacrolimus IPV in liver transplant recipients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are unknown. We investigated the association between tacrolimus IPV and transplant outcomes in 636 liver transplant patients. Tacrolimus IPV was determined by calculating the coefficient of variance (CV) of outpatient tacrolimus trough levels from 3 to 12 months after transplantation. High tacrolimus IPV was defined as CV >30%. Patients were grouped according to tacrolimus IPV and HCC status. Among 636 liver transplant patients, 349 had HCC and 287 had no HCC. Overall survival in HCC patients was significantly reduced with high tacrolimus IPV (P<0.001), whereas sur-vival of non-HCC patients was not associated with tacrolimus IPV. Multivariable analysis confirmed the independent association between high tacrolimus IPV and overall mortality in HCC patients (hazard ratio [HR], 3.010; 95% confidential interval [CI], 1.084– 4.918). HCC recurred in 59 patients (16.9%) posttransplantation. After adjusting for donor/recipient factors, immunosuppression, and tumor characteristics, high tacrolimus IPV was independently associated with an increased risk of HCC recurrence (HR, 2.196; 95% CI, 1.272–3.791). High tacrolimus IPV was associated with significantly increased risks of overall mortality and HCC recur-rence in liver transplant recipients with HCC.

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