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11.08.2020 | Systematic Review | Ausgabe 11/2020

Clinical Pharmacokinetics 11/2020

Population Pharmacokinetic Models of Tacrolimus in Adult Transplant Recipients: A Systematic Review

Clinical Pharmacokinetics > Ausgabe 11/2020
Ranita Kirubakaran, Sophie L. Stocker, Stefanie Hennig, Richard O. Day, Jane E. Carland


Background and Objectives

Numerous population pharmacokinetic (PK) models of tacrolimus in adult transplant recipients have been published to characterize tacrolimus PK and facilitate dose individualization. This study aimed to (1) investigate clinical determinants influencing tacrolimus PK, and (2) identify areas requiring additional research to facilitate the use of population PK models to guide tacrolimus dosing decisions.


The MEDLINE and EMBASE databases, as well as the reference lists of all articles, were searched to identify population PK models of tacrolimus developed from adult transplant recipients published from the inception of the databases to 29 February 2020.


Of the 69 studies identified, 55% were developed from kidney transplant recipients and 30% from liver transplant recipients. Most studies (91%) investigated the oral immediate-release formulation of tacrolimus. Few studies (17%) explained the effect of drug–drug interactions on tacrolimus PK. Only 35% of the studies performed an external evaluation to assess the generalizability of the models. Studies related variability in tacrolimus whole blood clearance among transplant recipients to either cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A5 genotype (41%), days post-transplant (30%), or hematocrit (29%). Variability in the central volume of distribution was mainly explained by body weight (20% of studies).


The effect of clinically significant drug–drug interactions and different formulations and brands of tacrolimus should be considered for any future tacrolimus population PK model development. Further work is required to assess the generalizability of existing models and identify key factors that influence both initial and maintenance doses of tacrolimus, particularly in heart and lung transplant recipients.

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