Early everolimus (EVR) introduction and tacrolimus (TAC) minimization after liver transplantation may represent a novel immunosuppressant approach. This phase 2, multicenter, randomized, open-label trial evaluated the safety and efficacy of early EVR initiation. Patients treated with corticosteroids, TAC, and basiliximab were randomized (2:1) to receive EVR (1.5 mg twice daily) on day 8 and to gradually minimize or withdraw TAC when EVR was stable at >5 ng/mL or to continue TAC at 6-12 ng/mL. The primary endpoint was the proportion of treated biopsy-proven acute rejection (tBPAR)–free patients at 3 months after transplant. As secondary endpoints, composite tBPAR plus graft/patient loss rate, renal function, TAC discontinuation rate, and adverse events were assessed. A total of 93 patients were treated with EVR, and 47 were controls. After 3 months from transplantation, 87.1% of patients with EVR and 95.7% of controls were tBPAR-free (P = 0.09); composite endpoint-free patients with EVR were 85% (versus 94%; P = 0.15). Also at 3 months, 37.6% patients were in monotherapy with EVR, and the tBPAR rate was 11.4%. Estimated glomerular filtration rate was significantly higher with EVR, as early as 2 weeks after randomization. In the study group, higher rates of dyslipidemia (15% versus 6.4%), wound complication (18.32% versus 0%), and incisional hernia (25.8% versus 6.4%) were observed, whereas neurological disorders were more frequent in the control group (13.9% versus 31.9%; P < 0.05). In conclusion, an early EVR introduction and TAC minimization may represent a suitable approach when immediate preservation of renal function is crucial.
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