The effect of conversion from cyclosporine-steroid immunosuppression to the new agent FK506 was studied in 96 liver allograft recipients who were experiencing graft dysfunction or cyclosporine toxicity. Patients were stratified according to the cause of graft dysfunction that ultimately led to conversion to FK506. Response to FK506 introduction was monitored pathologically and biochemically. The outcome of a switch from CsA to FK506 was highly favorable in patients experiencing acute and the early stages of chronic rejection, despite optimal conventional therapy. Patients with later stages of chronic rejection did not respond to conversion to FK506 and most eventually lost their liver grafts in this process. Patients in whom we had difficulty separating chronic rejection from chronic persistent or low-grade chronic active hepatitis were mostly unaffected by conversion to FK506. Active hepatitis was a poor indication for conversion, because most of the patients experienced graft failure or died from liver failure. As a group, there was no statistically significant change in renal function 180 days after conversion to FK506. These findings expand the experience with FK506 in human liver allograft recipients.
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