Background. Tacrolimus (TAC) and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) are currently approved immunosuppressants for prevention of rejection in liver transplantation (LTx). They have different modes of action and toxicity profiles, but the efficacy and safety of MMF in primary liver transplantation with TAC has not been determined. Methods. An Institutional Review Board-approved, open-label, single-center, prospective randomized trial was initiated to study the efficacy and toxicity of TAC and steroids (double-drug therapy (D)) versus TAC, steroids, and MMF (triple-drug therapy (T)) in primary adult LTx recipients. Both groups of patients were started on the same doses of TAC and steroids. Patients randomized to T also received 1 gm MMF twice a day. Results. Between August 1995 and May 1998, 350 patients were enrolled at a single center-175 in the D and 175 in the T groups. All patients were followed until May 1998, with a mean follow-up of 33.8±9.1 months. Using an intention-to-treat analysis, the 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-year patient survival was 85.1%, 81.6%, 78.6%, and 75.8%, respectively, for D and 87.4%, 85.4%, 81.3%, and 79.9%, respectively, for T. The 4-year graft survival was 70% for D and 72.1% for T. Although the rate of acute rejection in the first 3 months was significantly lower for T than for D (28% for triple vs. 38.9% for double, P=0.03), the overall rate of rejection for T at the end of 1 year was not significantly lower than for the D (38.9% triple vs. 45.2% double). The median time to the first episode of rejection was 14 days for D versus 24 days for T (P=0.008). During the study period, 38 of 175 patients in D received MMF to control ongoing acute rejection, nephrotoxicity, and/or neurotoxicity. On the other hand, 103 patients in the T discontinued MMF for infection, myelosuppression, and/or gastrointestinal disturbances. The need for corticosteroids was less after 6 months for T and the perioperative need for dialysis was lower with use of MMF. Conclusion. This final report confirms similar patient survival and graft survival up to 4 years with a trend towards fewer episodes of rejection, lower need for steroids, and better perioperative renal function. However, the complex nature of LTx patients and their posttransplantation course prevents the routine application of MMF.
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