The long-term effect of conversion from calcineurin inhibitor (CNI) therapy to an mTOR inhibitor requires clarification. Following completion of the 12-month, open-label, multicenter ZEUS study, in which 300 kidney transplant recipients were randomized to continue cyclosporine (CsA) or convert to everolimus at 4.5 months posttransplant, outcomes were assessed at month 36 (n = 284; 94.7%). CNI therapy was reintroduced in 28.4% of everolimus patients by month 36. The primary efficacy endpoint, estimated glomerular filtration rate (Nankivell, ANCOVA) was significantly higher with everolimus versus the CsA group at month 24 (7.6 mL/min/1.73 m(2) , 95%CI 4.3, 11.0 mL/min/1.73 m(2) ; p < 0.001) and month 36 (7.5 mL/min/1.73 m(2) , 95%CI 3.6, 11.4 mL/min/1.73 m(2) ; p < 0.001). The incidence of biopsy-proven acute rejection from randomization to month 36 was 13.0% in the everolimus arm and 4.8% in the CsA arm (p = 0.015). Patient and graft survival, as well as incidences of malignancy, severe infections and hospitalization, were similar between groups. Kidney transplant patients who are converted from CsA to everolimus at month 4.5 and who remain on everolimus thereafter may achieve a significant improvement in renal function that is maintained to 3 years. There was a significantly higher rate of rejection in the everolimus arm but this did not exert a deleterious effect by 3 years posttransplant.
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