Monitoring of Ex vivo Cyclosporin A Activity in Healthy Volunteers Using T Cell Function Assays in Relation to Whole Blood and Cellular Pharmacokinetics

Aliede E. in ’t Veld, Manon A. A. Jansen, Bertine W. Huisman, Mascha Schoonakker, Marieke L. de Kam, Dirk Jan A. R. Moes, Mariëtte I. E. van Poelgeest, Jacobus Burggraaf and Matthijss Moerland

Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) of calcineurin inhibitors (i.e., tacrolimus and cyclosporin A) is standard of care after solid organ transplantation. Although the incidence of acute rejection has strongly decreased, there are still many patients who experience severe side effects or rejection after long-term treatment. In this healthy volunteer study we therefore aimed to identify biomarkers to move from a pharmacokinetic-based towards a pharmacodynamic-based monitoring approach for calcineurin inhibitor treatment. Healthy volunteers received a single dose of cyclosporine A (CsA) or placebo, after which whole blood samples were stimulated to measure ex vivo T cell functionality, including proliferation, cytokine production, and activation marker expression. The highest whole blood concentration of CsA was found at 2 h post-dose, which resulted in a strong inhibition of interferon gamma (IFNy) and interleukin-2 (IL-2) production and expression of CD154 and CD71 on T cells. Moreover, the in vitro effect of CsA was studied by incubation of pre-dose whole blood samples with a concentration range of CsA. The average in vitro and ex vivo CsA activity overlapped, making the in vitro dose–effect relationship an interesting method for prediction of post-dose drug effect. The clinical relevance of the results is to be explored in transplantation patients on calcineurin inhibitor treatment.

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