Empiric switch from calcineurin inhibitor to sirolimus-based immunosuppression in pediatric heart transplantation recipients

Robert W. Loar, David J. Driscoll, Sudhir S. Kushwaha, Carl H. Cramer, Patrick W. O'Leary, Richard C. Daly, Daniel A. Mauriello, Jonathan N. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Sirolimus is used in heart transplant patients with CAV and CNI-induced nephropathy. However, little is known regarding the tolerability, rejection rate, and effect on renal function when used empirically in children. We describe our experience with the empiric use of a sirolimus-based immunosuppressive regimen in pediatric heart transplantation recipients. We reviewed records of patients in whom conversion was attempted to a CNI-free sirolimus-based regimen. Rejection episodes and measures of renal function were recorded. We attempted to convert 20 patients, of which 16 were successful. In total, six of 20 patients (30%) experienced adverse effects. Of the 16 converted, four patients converted to sirolimus due to CNI-induced disease (three nephropathy, one CAV), while 12 patients (mean age 5.5 yr, range 0.1-21 yr; 33% female; 33% with a history of congenital heart disease) were empirically switched to sirolimus at a mean of 2.3 yr after transplant. Follow-up was available for a mean of 2.5 yr after conversion (range 0.5-8.3 yr). The rate of rejection while taking CNIs was 0.18 rejection episodes per patient-year (total of five episodes), compared with 0.03 rejection episodes per patient-year (total of one episode) while on sirolimus. Renal function, in terms of GFR, significantly improved after sirolimus conversion at latest follow-up (from 86 ± 37 mL/min to 130 ± 49 mL/min, p = 0.02). Here, we demonstrate the potential benefit of empiric use of sirolimus in pediatric heart transplant patients in a CNI-free regimen. Larger and longer studies are needed to further clarify risks of rejection and adverse effect profiles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)794-799
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Transplantation
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • heart transplantation
  • immunosuppression
  • pediatric
  • sirolimus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Transplantation


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