Tacrolimus (TAC) is the most important agent for maintenance immunosuppression and prevention of immunologic injury to the renal allograft, yet there remains no consensus on how best to monitor drug therapy. Both high TAC intrapatient variability and low TAC time in therapeutic range (TTR) have been associated with risk of de novo donor–specific antibodies (dnDSA). In this study, we hypothesized that the risk associated with high TAC coefficient of variation (CV) is a result of low TAC TTR rather than the variability itself.
We analyzed the risk of dnDSA, acute rejection, or death-censored graft loss by non–dosed-corrected TAC CV and TAC TTR during the first posttransplant year in a cohort of 538 patients with a median follow-up period of 4.1 years.
Patients with CV >44.2% and TTR <40% (high intrapatient variability and low TTR) had a high risk of dnDSA (adjusted OR = 4.93, 95% confidence interval = 2.02-12.06, P < 0.001) and death-censored graft loss by 5 years (adjusted HR = 4.00, 95% confidence interval = 1.31-12.24, P = 0.015) when compared with patients with CV >44.2% and TTR ≥40% (high intrapatient variability and optimal TTR), while the latter patients had similar risk to patients with CV <44.2% (lower intrapatient variability).
These data suggest that previously reported immunologic risk associated with high TAC intrapatient variability is due to time outside of therapeutic range rather than variability in and of itself when evaluating absolute non–dose-corrected TAC levels irrespective of reason or indication.