The introduction of tacrolimus has shown decreased rates of acute and steroid-resistant rejection after liver transplantation (LTx). The aim of the present study is to examine the long-term efficacy and safety of tacrolimus in primary liver transplant recipients. The first 121 consecutive adults (aged > 16 years) who underwent primary LTx at a single center from August 1989 to February 1990 were followed up until August 1997. The mean follow-up was 93.2 ± 1.2 months (range, 90.5 to 96.5 months). Patient survival, graft survival, rate of rejection, and adverse events were examined. The actual 7- year patient survival rate was 67.8%, and the graft survival rate was 63.6%. Infections, recurrence of disease, de novo malignancies, and cardiovascular events constituted the main causes of graft loss and death in the long term. Graft loss related to acute or chronic rejection was rare. The rate of acute rejection beyond 2 years was approximately 3% per year, and most rejections were steroid responsive. Approximately 70% of the patients received only tacrolimus after 1 year. Four patients developed endstage renal disease, and 2 patients underwent kidney transplantation. Hyperkalemia and hypertension were observed in one third of the patients New-onset insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus was observed in 9% and 13% of the patients at the 1-year and 7-year follow-up, respectively. Seven patients developed de novo malignancies, including two skin malignancies. Six patients developed posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disorder during the entire follow-up period. Actual patient and graft survival at 7 years was excellent, and few adverse events developed after the first year. Graft loss from acute or chronic rejection was rare under tacrolimus, and approximately 70% of the patients were steroid free on tacrolimus monotherapy after the first year after LTx.
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