A comparison of measured trough levels and abbreviated AUC estimation by limited sampling strategies for monitoring mycophenolic acid exposure in stable heart transplant patients receiving cyclosporin A-containing and cyclosporin A-free immunosuppressive regimens

Andreas O Dösch, Philipp Ehlermann, Achim Koch, Andrew Remppis, Hugo A Katus, Thomas J Dengler
Clinical Therapeutics 2006, 28 (6): 893-905

BACKGROUND: Mycophenolate mofetil (NIMF) pharmacokinetics vary widely, and enterohepatic recirculation of the drug and its metabolites may be altered by concurrently administered immunosuppressants, including the widely used agent cyclosporin A (CsA). A reliable method of achieving effective and well-tolerated levels of NIMF-based immunosuppression would be of eminent interest.

OBJECTIVE: This study compared the use of measured mycophenolic acid (MPA) trough levels (C0) and abbreviated AUC estimation by limited-sampling strategies for monitoring MPA exposure in stable heart transplant recipients (>1 year after transplantation) receiving a CsA-containing or CsA-free immunosuppressive regimen.

METHODS: The treatment groups were receiving chronic maintenance immunosuppressive regimens consisting of either CsA/MMF or rapamycin (RAPA)/MMF. An additional subgroup of patients was switched from the CsA-containing regimen to the RAPA-containing regimen. Fasting venous blood samples were obtained before dosing and at 40, 75, 120, and 240 minutes after administration of the morning dose of MME The validated Emit assay was used to measure MPA plasma concentrations. Dose adjustment of AUCs was performed by dividing the AUC by the morning NIMF dose in grams. Cmax after administration of the morning dose was determined from available MPA data points using curve-fitting analysis. The increase to Cmax (Cmax-C0) was calculated, and dose adjustment was performed as before. Abbreviated 12-hour MPA AUCs were estimated using a limited-sampling strategy (before dosing and 30 and 120 minutes after dosing) based on high-performance liquid chromatography data. Adverse events were monitored during routine follow-up visits.

RESULTS: The study included 47 patients receiving CsA/MMF, 15 receiving RAPA/MMF, and 9 who were switched from CsA/MMF to RAPA/MME The population included 55 men and 7 women, with a mean age of 58.94 years and a mean weight of 81.85 kg. The only significant differences in baseline clinical characteristics between groups were the mean number of years since heart transplantation (3.62 CsA/MMF vs 8.53 RAPA/MMF; P<0.01) and the proportions of patients still receiving corticosteroids (44.7% vs 13.3%, respectively; P<0.01). Reported adverse events were generally mild, including leukopenia (8.1%), diarrhea (6.5%), and abdominal pain (4.8%), and did not require drug discontinuation. In patients receiving CsA/MMF, MPA AUCs ranged from 19.67 to 81.80 mg/h.L (mean [SD], 41.92 [14.14] mg/h.L). MPA Co levels were poorly correlated with total AUC (r2=0.36). MPA Co levels of 0.5 and 1.6 mg/L were correlated with AUCs of <30 and <40 mg/h.L, respectively. In patients receiving RAPA/MMF, MPA AUCs ranged from 34.40 to 87.60 mg/h.L (mean, 51.07 [15.80] mg/h.L). The correlation between Co and total AUC was better than in the CsA/MMF group (r2=0.61). MPA C0 levels of 1.0 and 2.3 mg/L were correlated with AUCs of 30 and 40 mg/h.L, respectively. Statistically significant differences between RAPA/MMF and CsA/MMF were noted in the mean MMF dosage (1.90 [0.71] vs 2.87 [0.78] g/d, respectively; P<0.001), the mean dose-adjusted MPA AUC (60.95 [27.42] vs 31.92 [16.12] mg/h.L.g MMF; P<0.001), and mean dose-adjusted MPA C0 levels (5.10 [3.41] vs 1.41 [0.95] mg/L.g; P<0.001). The dose-adjusted increase to Cmax after morning dosing was comparable between groups, and there was no difference in the frequency distribution of Cmax. In the group switched from the CsA-containing regimen to the RAPA-containing regimen, the changes in MMF dose, dose-adjusted AUC, and MPA C0 levels were similar to those in the CsA/MMF and RAPA/MMF groups.

CONCLUSIONS: In this comparison of measured MPA C0 levels and 12-hour MPA AUCs estimated by a limited-sampling strategy in stable heart transplant patients receiving chronic maintenance immunosuppressive therapy with CsA/MMF or RAPA/MMF, abbreviated AUC estimation predicted drug exposure more accurately than did measured C0 levels. Thus, MPA AUCs obtained by limited sampling may be useful in guiding clinical management and dosing. However, further study is required, including validation of these findings in clinical outcome studies.

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