Author(s): Murthy JN, Davis DL, Yatscoff RW, Soldin SJ
Abstract Share this page
Abstract OBJECTIVES: Tacrolimus (FK506) is an immunosuppressive drug with great clinical promise. There is a controversy regarding the role of tacrolimus metabolites in immunosuppression and toxicity, and immunoassays and immunophilin binding assays have not been adequately tested for metabolite cross-reactivity. Methods are limited to HPLC and HPLC-MS for quantifying the parent drug. Mixed lymphocyte culture assay (MLC) is the preferred functional bioassay for the measurement of parent drug and active metabolites but it is not practical for routine laboratory use. Due to differences in assay methods and reagent specificity, the concentration of tacrolimus in a given specimen may vary among different assay kit manufacturers. The objective of this study was to evaluate the degree of cross-reactivity or interference of the three first-generation tacrolimus metabolites [13-O-demethyl (M-I), 31-O-demethyl (M-II) and 15-O-demethyl (M-III)] among two different tacrolimus immunoassays (Immunoassay: PRO-Trac II FK506, Abbott IMx tacrolimus-II); and the radioreceptor assays (RRA) using minor immunophilins (14, 37, and 52 kDa immunophilins) and tacrolimus binding protein (FKBP12). METHODS: First-generation tacrolimus metabolites (M-I, M-II, and M-III) spiked in drug-free whole blood were assayed with RRA using three minor immunophilins (14, 37, and 52 kDa) and two commercial immunoassay procedures (Incstar PRO-Trac II tacrolimus, Abbott IMx tacrolimus II). The results were compared to previously published FKBP-12 RRA data and their immunosuppressive potency. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: The first generation tacrolimus metabolites (M-I, M-II, and M-III) were tested using concentrations of 10 and 20 ng/mL. The significance of the metabolite interference (\% of the total interference) was calculated based on the relative concentration of each metabolite present at steady-state trough concentrations in renal transplant recipients (22). Metabolite I, which has no functional immunosuppressive activity showed minimal interference compared to M-II and M-III in all assays except the 14 kDa RRA. The Incstar PRO-Trac II tacrolimus assay showed the least M-I interference. Metabolite-II, which has a pharmacologic potency similar to the parent drug, showed a significant interference in the immunoassays and significant interference in radioreceptor assays. Metabolite III, which is pharmacologically inactive, produces 3-10\% interference in the different assays if its presence in the blood is 6\% of the parent drug. The total interference from these three metabolites was greater in the immunoassays than in the receptor assays. Receptor assays for tacrolimus provide results closer to the target value than do immunoassays.
This article was published in Clin Biochem
and referenced in Journal of Analytical & Bioanalytical Techniques