Hyperkalemia Following Liver Transplant
In an effort to maintain the success of liver transplantation, certain measures must be undertaken so as to hinder the recipient’s body from rejecting the transplanted organ such as the liver. This warrants the use of immunosuppressive agents. Immunosuppressive agents or anti-rejection drugs inhibit or slows down the natural tasks of the immune system. Normally, the immune system is responsible for distinguishing “self" and “non-self" substances inside the body. Its function kicks in when a “non-self" organism is detected by the cells of the immune system.
The problem with organ transplantation is that the immune system considers the transplanted organ as something which is foreign, thus causing the recipient’s body to reject it. Because of this, immunosuppressive drugs have been utilized as beneficial after-care measures for transplanted liver recipients.
These drugs, however, can also substantively cause detrimental effects that render the recipient vulnerable to varying illnesses. Some of the most common ones include infections, the spread of malignant cells, liver and kidney injury, and hyperkalemia (increase in blood potassium levels), among many others.
Cyclosporine, a very powerful medicine, and Taclorimus are two of the most widely used and trusted anti-rejection drugs. It must be noted that these reduce renal potassium excretion— the kidney’s ability to regulate potassium levels found in the blood. When taken simultaneously with potassium-sparing diuretics, medications that also reduce urine potassium excretion, potassium levels largely increase. Therefore, such characteristics and abilities enable these drugs to highly-induce hyperkalemia following liver transplant.