In adults, the outcome of nerve suture and nerve autograft remains generally unsatisfactory. FK506 (tacrolimus), an immunosuppressant drug used in transplantation, has been reported in animal studies to enhance nerve regeneration. In hand transplantation patients, nerve regeneration was unexpectedly good and rapid, and this observation has been attributed to FK506. The present Phase II experiment investigated the tolerance to FK506 after nerve suture or autograft, and the potential effects of the drug on axonal regeneration. Following strict criteria, five patients were included in this study. Within 7 days of nerve repair (median, ulnar and sciatic transections), patients received FK506 (aiming for blood concentrations between 5 and 8 ng/ml) for a total duration of 60 days. The patients were carefully followed with clinical and biological monitoring in order to detect side-effects. A clinical and electrophysiological assessment of the effect of FK506 on nerve regeneration was conducted. No undesirable side-effect was observed during or after FK506 treatment, but one non-compliant patient discontinued treatment. There was no evident improvement of sensory, motor or functional recovery at the end of the follow-up period (average duration 39.8 months), as compared to the expected clinical result without treatment. Although statistically non-significant, FK506 seemed to accelerate the progression of the Hoffmann-Tinel sign, but without impact on the final result.
Clinical Trial, Phase II
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't