Tacrolimus (TAC) is currently the cornerstone of immunosuppressive protocols for renal transplant recipients. Despite therapeutic whole blood monitoring, TAC is associated with nephrotoxicity, and it has been hypothesized that intrarenal accumulation of TAC and/or its metabolites are involved. As TAC is a substrate of P-glycoprotein (P-gp), the expression and activity of this efflux transporter could influence the levels of TAC in renal tissue. The primary aim of this study was to develop and validate a method for quantification of TAC in tissue homogenates from single human renal core biopsies. The secondary aim was to provide measures of P-gp expression and of the demethylated metabolites of TAC in the same renal biopsy.
Human renal tissue, with and without clinical TAC exposure, was used for method development and validation. Homogenates were prepared with bead-beating, and concentrations of TAC and its demethylated metabolites were analyzed with liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry after protein precipitation. A Western blot method was used for semiquantification of P-gp expression in the homogenates. The final methods were applied to renal core biopsies from 2 transplant patients.
The TAC assay showed within- and between-run mean accuracy between 99.7% and 107% and coefficients of variation ≤6.7%. Matrix effects were nonsignificant, and samples were stable for 3 months preanalytically when stored at −80°C. TAC concentrations in the renal core biopsies were 62.6 and 43.7 pg/mg tissue. The methods for measurement of desmethyl-TAC and P-gp expression were suitable for semiquantification in homogenates from renal core biopsies.
These methods may be valuable for the elucidation of the pharmacokinetic mechanisms behind TAC-induced nephrotoxicity in renal transplant recipients.