Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 115–135 | Cite as

Immunosuppressive Therapy for Paediatric Transplant Patients

Pharmacokinetic Considerations
  • María del Mar Fernández de Gatta
  • Dolores Santos-Buelga
  • Alfonso Domínguez-Gil
  • María José García
Review Articles Special Populations


Immunosuppressive therapy in paediatric transplant recipients is changing as a consequence of the increasing number of available immunosuppressive agents. Generic and other new formulations are now emerging onto the market, clinical experience is growing, and it is expected that clinicians should tailor immunosuppressive protocols to individual patients by optimising dosages and drugs according to the maturation and clinical status of the child. Most information about the clinical pharmacokinetics of immunosuppressive drugs in paediatrics is centred on cyclosporin, tacrolimus and mycophenolate mofetil in renal and liver transplant recipients; data regarding other immunosuppressants and transplant types are limited.

Although the clinical pharmacokinetics of these drugs in paediatric transplant recipients are still under investigation, it is evident that the pharmacokinetic parameters observed in adults may not be applicable to children, especially in younger age groups. In general, patients younger than 5 years old show higher clearance rates irrespective of the organ transplanted or drug used. Another important factor that frequently affects clearance in this patient population is the post-transplant time. In accordance with these findings, and in contrast with the usual under-dosage in children, the need for higher dosages in younger recipients and during the early post-transplant period seems evident.

To achieve the best compromise between prevention of rejection and toxicity, dosage individualisation is required and this can be achieved through therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM). This approach is particularly useful to ensure the costeffective management of paediatric transplant recipients in whom the pharmacokinetic behaviour, target concentrations for clinical use and optimal dosage strategies of a particular drug may not yet be well defined. Although TDM may be a tool for improving immunosuppressive therapy, there is little information concerning its positive contribution to clinical events, including outcomes, for paediatric patients. Substantial information to support the use of TDM exists for cyclosporin and, to a lesser extent, for tacrolimus, but a diversity of options affects their implementation in the clinical setting. The role of TDM in therapy with mycophenolate mofetil and sirolimus has yet to be defined regarding both methods and clinical indications. Pharmacodynamic monitoring appears more suited to other immunosuppressants such as azathioprine, corticosteroids and monoclonal or polyclonal antibodies. If coupled with pharmacokinetic measurements, such monitoring would allow earlier and more precise optimisation of therapy.

Very few population pharmacokinetic studies have been carried out in paediatric transplant patients. This type of study is needed so that techniques such as Bayesian forecasting can be applied to optimise immunosuppressive therapy in paediatric transplant patients.


Tacrolimus Acute Rejection Sirolimus Therapeutic Drug Monitoring Mycophenolate Mofetil 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work is supported by the University of Salamanca, Spain.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • María del Mar Fernández de Gatta
    • 1
  • Dolores Santos-Buelga
    • 1
  • Alfonso Domínguez-Gil
    • 1
    • 2
  • María José García
    • 1
  1. 1.Pharmacy DepartmentUniversity of SalamancaSalamancaSpain
  2. 2.Pharmacy ServiceUniversity Clinical HospitalSalamancaSpain

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