Arterial hypertension (AH) is the most common toxic effect of calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)–based immunosuppression in children after liver transplantation (LT). Activation of the renal sodium chloride cotransporter (NCC) by CNIs has been described as a major cause of CNI-induced AH. Thiazides, for example, hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ), can selectively block the NCC and may ameliorate CNI-induced AH after pediatric LT.
From 2005 thru 2015 we conducted a retrospective, single-center analysis of blood pressure in 2 pediatric cohorts (each n = 33) with or without HCTZ in their first year after LT. All patients received CNI-based immunosuppression. According to AAP guidelines, AH was defined as stage 1 and stage 2. Cohort 1 received an HCTZ-containing regimen to target the CNI-induced effect on the NCC, leading to AH. Cohort 2 received standard antihypertensive therapy without HCTZ.
In children who have undergone LT and been treated with CNI, AH overall was observed less frequently in cohort 1 vs cohort 2 (31% vs 44%; ns). Moreover, severe AH (stage 2) was significantly lower in cohort 1 vs 2 (1% vs 18%; p < 0.001). Multivariate analysis revealed HCTZ as the only significant factor with a protective effect on occurrence of severe stage 2 AH. While monitoring safety and tolerability, mild asymptomatic hypokalemia was the only adverse effect observed more frequently in cohort 1 vs 2 (27% vs 3%; p = 0.013).
Targeting NCC by HCTZ significantly improved control of severe CNI-induced AH and was well tolerated in children who underwent LT. This effect may reduce the risk of long-term end-organ damage and improve quality of life.