A multicenter analysis of the first experience with FK506 for induction and rescue therapy after pancreas transplantation

Rainer W G Gruessner, George W Burke, Robert Stratta, Hans Sollinger, Enrico Benedetti, Christopher Marsh, Peter Stock, J. Philip Boudreaux, Maureen Martin, Mary Beth Drangstveit, David E R Sutherland, Angelika Gruessner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

113 Scopus citations


Between May 1, 1993 and April 5, 1995, 154 pancreas allograft recipients at 9 institutions were given FK506 posttransplant. Three groups were studied: (1) recipients given FK506 initially for induction and maintenance therapy (n=82), (2) recipients switched to FK506 for antirejection or rescue therapy (n=61), and (3) recipients converted to FK506 for other reasons (n=11). Of 82 patients in the induction group, 7 (9%) had simultaneous bone marrow (BM) and pancreas-kidney (SPK-BM) transplants, 54 (66%) had SPK transplants without BM, 14 (17%) had pancreas transplants alone (PTA), and 7 (9%) had pancreas after previous kidney transplants (PAK). All but 1 recipient was given quadruple immunosuppression (anti-T cell agents plus azathioprine and prednisone) for induction. The median FK506 starting dose was 4 mg/day p.o.; the median average FK506 blood level, 12 ng/ml. The most common side effects were neurotoxicity (16%), nephrotoxicity (13%), and gastrointestinal toxicity (9%). New-onset diabetes mellitus requiring permanent insulin therapy did not occur. Of 61 transplants in the rescue group, 44 (72%) were SPK, 11 (18%) PTA, and 6 (10%) PAK. All but 3 (95%) of the recipients had been on cyclosporine-azathioprine-prednisone triple immunosuppression before substitution of FK506 for cyclosporine; 46% of the recipients had one, and 54% ≥2, rejection episodes preconversion. The most common side effects were nephrotoxicity (25%), neurotoxicity (23%), and gastrointestinal toxicity (21%). Two recipients were reconverted to cyclosporine because of transient hyperglycemia, and one recipient is on insulin. In the induction group, patient survival at 6 months was 90% for SPK, 100% for PTA, and 100% for PAK. According to a matched-pair analysis, pancreas graft survival for SPK recipients at 6 months was 87% for FK506 versus 70% for cyclosporine recipients (P=0.04); for PTA recipients, 84% versus 66% (P=n.s.); and for PAK recipients, 80% versus 14% (P=0.11). When technical failures and death with functioning grafts were censored, pancreas graft survival remained significantly better in the FK506 group. The incidence of first reversible rejection episodes by 6 months in FK506 recipients was 35% for SPK, 40% for PTA, and 20% for PAK. Of 75 pancreas grafts, 64 are currently functioning; in 5 recipients the pancreas failed (1 from rejection); 6 recipients died with a functioning pancreas graft. There were 3 posttransplant lymphomas (all EBV- positive); 2 recipients died and 1 is alive after subtotal colectomy and transplant pancreatectomy. In the antirejection rescue group, patient survival rates at 6 months were 91% for SPK, 100% for PTA, and 80% for PAK (P=n.s.). Pancreas graft survival rates at 6 months were 90% for SPK, 72% for PTA, and 40% for PAK. The incidence of first reversible rejection episodes after conversion to FK506 at 6 months was 44% in SPK, 54% in PTA, and 50% in PAK. Of 61 pancreas grafts, 51 are currently functioning; in 7 recipients the pancreas failed (5 from rejection); 3 recipients died with a functioning graft. There were no posttransplant lymphomas in the rescue group. This multicenter survey shows that FK506 in pancreas transplantation is associated with (1) a low rate of graft loss from rejection when used for induction therapy, (2) a high rate of graft salvage when used for rescue or rejection therapy, and (3) a very low rate of new-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. These encouraging results are tarnished by 3 posttransplant lymphomas in the induction group; a possible explanation is overimmunosuppression, but further (randomized) studies are necessary to analyze the long-term risk-benefit ratio of FK506 after pancreas transplantation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-273
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 27 1996
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Immunology

Cite this

Gruessner, R. W. G., Burke, G. W., Stratta, R., Sollinger, H., Benedetti, E., Marsh, C., Stock, P., Boudreaux, J. P., Martin, M., Drangstveit, M. B., Sutherland, D. E. R., & Gruessner, A. (1996). A multicenter analysis of the first experience with FK506 for induction and rescue therapy after pancreas transplantation. Transplantation, 61(2), 261-273. https://doi.org/10.1097/00007890-199601270-00018