Preservation of renal function after heart transplantation: Initial single-center experience with sirolimus

J. De Meester, B. Van Vlem, Francis Wellens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Background. Long-term survivors of heart transplantation are often confronted with chronic kidney disease, by definition related to the intake of calcineurin-inhibitors. Sirolimus is increasingly proposed as an alternative immunosuppressive agent due to its absence of nephrotoxicity.

Methods. Between November 2002 and November 2003, 9 adult heart transplant candidates with moderate to severe chronic renal disease were switched from cyclosporine to sirolimus. The conversion scheme consisted of an immediate stop of cyclosporine and an 8-mg loading dose of sirolimus, followed by 3 mg/d; after I week, the sirolimus dose was adjusted to maintain trough levels between 5 and 15 mu g/L. The majority of patients were on corticosteroids, and on either azathioprine or mycophenolate mofetil. At conversion, the mean serum creatinine level was 2.11 (+/- 0.4) mg/dL and the mean glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was 32 ( +/- 7) mL/min/1.73 m(2). Prior to conversion, the renal dysfunction was predominantly stable.

Results. After conversion, there were 7 dropouts (75%) due to several side effects related to sirolimus: edema (n = 2), general discomfort (n = 2), delayed wound healing (n = 1), cardiac thrombus (n = 1), and diarrhea (n = 1). The median treatment time with Sirolimus, therefore, was only 4.0 months. While on sirolimus, the renal function of all patients remained unchanged or showed even some improvement. Retrospective nephrological review revealed severe renal artery stenoses in 2 patients and serious generalized abdominal and renal atheromatosis in 7 patients. No cardiac dysfunction was seen.

Conclusion. Conversion from cyclosporine to sirolimus was problematic due to sirolimus side effects, occurring at any time after the switch. One should also question whether chronic kidney disease after heart transplantation is routinely caused by the administration of calcineurin-inhibitors, in view of the generalized renal and abdominal atheromatosis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1835-1838
Number of pages4
JournalTransplantation Proceedings
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2005




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