Calcineurin inhibitors in renal transplantation still needed but in reduced doses: A review

C. Ponticelli, M. P. Scolari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite their contribution in the success of organ transplantation, calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) may be responsible for frequent and severe side effects that can affect graft survival and life expectancy. In this article, we have reviewed registry studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that seek to avoid, withdraw, or minimize CNIs in renal transplant recipients. Attempts to completely avoid CNIs by administering mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) and/or sirolimus (SRL) have resulted in increased risks of rejection and side effects, with small advantage to improve renal graft function. Early withdrawal of CNIs after transplantation using administration of MMF can improve graft function but may be associated with a greater risk of acute or chronic rejection and graft failure. RCTs in which CNIs were replaced a few months after transplantation by SRL reported improved graft function among SRL-treated patients, but such a treatment was complicated by iatrogenic toxicity. Late replacement of CNIs with SRL did not produce a particular advantage and again was complicated by more frequent side effects. On the basis of these trials, it seems that CNI elimination can trigger rejection or side effects. Recent RCTs showed that minimization of CNI doses in association with everolimus does not increase the risk of rejection, allows one to obtain good graft function, and is well tolerated. Such an approach seems therefore preferable to complete elimination of CNIs with substitution of the current immunosuppressive drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2205-2208
Number of pages4
JournalTransplantation Proceedings
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Transplantation


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