With the advent of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), HIV positivity is no longer a contraindication for liver transplantation. Some of the antiretroviral agents, particularly protease inhibitors (e.g., ritonavir, indinavir, and nelfinavir) have been described as potent inhibitors of the metabolism of certain immunosuppressive drugs. In this article we describe a profound interaction between tacrolimus and Kaletra (Abbott Laboratories, Chicago, IL) (a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir) in 3 liver transplantation patients. Patient 1, who was maintained on a 5 mg twice daily dose of tacrolimus with a trough blood concentration around 10.6 ng/mL, required only 0.5 mg of tacrolimus per week after addition of Kaletra to achieve similar tacrolimus blood concentrations, with a half-life of 10.6 days. In patient 2, the area under the blood concentration versus time curve for tacrolimus increased from 31 ng/mL/h to 301 ng/mL/h after addition of Kaletra, with a corresponding half-life of 20 days. When the patient was subsequently switched to nelfinavir, the half-life decreased to 10.3 days. Patient 3, who was maintained with 4 to 8 mg/d of tacrolimus and a corresponding blood concentration of 10 ng/mL before Kaletra, required a tacrolimus dose of 1 mg/wk and tacrolimus concentrations of 5 ng/mL with Kaletra. In conclusion, a combination of lopinavir and ritonavir led to a much more profound increase in tacrolimus blood concentrations than use of single protease inhibitor, nelfinavir. A tacrolimus dose of less than 1 mg/wk may be sufficient to maintain adequate blood tacrolimus concentrations in patients on Kaletra. Patients may not need a further dose of tacrolimus for 3 to 5 weeks depending on liver function when therapy with Kaletra is initiated. Great caution is required in the management of tacrolimus dosage when Kaletra is introduced or withdrawn in HIV-positive patients after liver transplantation, particularly in the presence of hepatic dysfunction.
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