Tacrolimus trough concentrations (mean/variability), as well as concentration-to-dose ratio (C/D ratio), affect kidney allograft outcomes. We investigated the link between the C/D ratio and death-censored kidney graft survival (DCGS).
We performed a retrospective study on 1029 kidney transplant patients (2004–2016) with the following criteria: tacrolimus-based immunosuppression, >1-year graft survival, no initial use of everolimus, and available anti–human leukocyte antigen antibody data. We analyzed the impact of the time-varying C/D ratio on DCGS. Fast metabolizers were defined by a C/D ratio < 1.05. We also investigated the effect of an early (mo 3 to mo 6 post transplantation) C/D ratio below 1.05. Cox survival analyses were performed, adjusting for potential confounders (tacrolimus trough, variability of tacrolimus trough, de novo donor-specific antibody development, cytochrome P450 3A5 genotype, pregraft sensitization, mo 3 glomerular filtration rate).
Time-varying C/D ratio was significantly associated with DCGS (hazard ratio [HR], 2.35; P < 0.001) in a univariate model, on the full analysis set comprising 1029 patients. In the multivariate time-varying model, based on 666 patients with available cytochrome P450 3A5 genotypes, the effect of the C/D ratio remained significant (HR, 2.26; P = 0.015); even when glomerular filtration rate at month 3 < 30 mL/min/1.73 m2 (HR, 2.61; P = 0.011), de novo donor-specific antibody development (HR, 4.09; P < 0.001) and continued steroid prescription (HR=2.08, P = 0.014) were taken into account (other covariates, including tacrolimus trough concentrations, were nonsignificant). In the same multivariate model, the effect of early C/D ratio (median at mo 3 and mo 6) remained significantly associated with DCGS (HR, 2.25; P = 0.041).
C/D ratio is an independent and early predictor of DCGS. Identification of fast metabolizers could be a strategy to improve graft survival, for example, by optimizing tacrolimus formulation. Mechanistic studies to understand the C/D ratio effect are required.