Background. The salutary immunosuppressive effects of cyclosporine in extending cardiac allograft survival may be curtailed by its nephrotoxic effects. We reviewed our first 9 years of experience with cyclosporine after cardiac transplantation, to evaluate the incidence and progression of cyclosporine-associated end-stage renal failure necessitating chronic hemodialysis. Methods. Retrospective computer-based file review and personal interview when possible. Results. The population at risk was comprised of all adult cardiac recipients surviving at least 3 years (n=293). Of these, 19 (6.5%) developed end-stage renal failure requiring chronic hemodialysis. There were 17 men and 2 women (mean age of 45±11 years). The mean creatinine clearance for the study group decreased by 38% (P<0.001 vs. before transplant) by 6 months after transplantation and by 48% by 3 years postoperatively (P<0.001 vs. before transplant). The mean serum creatinine rose by 80% (P<0.001 vs. before transplant) by 6 months after transplantation and by 125% by 3 years postoperatively (P<0.001 vs. before transplant). Time elapsed from transplantation to hemodialysis ranged from 3.7 to 9.5 years (mean 6.4±2). Actuarial 1- year survival after onset of hemodialysis was 75%. Conclusions. Although cyclosporine remains the central immunosuppressive agent for cardiac allograft recipients, its use leads to a greater than one- third decrease in creatinine clearance by 6 months after transplantation and progression to end-stage renal failure, requiring hemodialysis in 6.5% of cardiac transplant recipients. Moreover, these patients are at increased risk of death compared with other cardiac allograft recipients. This data warrants the search of alternative or adjunctive agents that would allow decreased dosing or reduced nephrotoxicity of cyclosporine, while maintaining equivalent survival.
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