Ultrastructural and morphometric alterations to the peripheral nerve following the administration of immunosuppressive agent tacrolimus (FK506)

Celikkan F. T., Hayirli Ozyol N., NAKKAŞ H., Evirgen O.

Ultrastructural Pathology, vol.45, no.2, pp.112-117, 2021 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 45 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/01913123.2021.1881673
  • Journal Name: Ultrastructural Pathology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.112-117
  • Keywords: G-ratio, neurotoxic effects, sciatic nerve, tacrolimus (FK506), ultrastructure
  • Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University Affiliated: Yes


© 2021 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.Tacrolimus, a widely used immunosuppressive drug for preventing graft rejection following organ transplantation, was reported to develop neurotoxic side effects ranging from mild to severe symptoms in the literature. Rats were randomly divided into three groups as control and 2-week and 3-week treatment groups and received a 2 mg/kg/day tacrolimus by oral gavage. Animals were sacrificed and sciatic nerves obtained from all groups were fixed and processed for light and electron microscopic investigations. The myelinated fiber diameter, axon diameter, G-ratio (axon diameter/myelinated fiber diameter), and myelin thickness were also determined. The data obtained in the control and tacrolimus-treated groups were compared. The control group sciatic nerve fascicles showed normal morphology with myelinated and unmyelinated fibers. Experimental groups exhibited axonal dilatation, irregularly thickened and vacuolated myelin sheaths with separation of myelin layers. The morphometric analysis showed that the myelinated fibers of the 2-week tacrolimus-treated group displayed a moderate increase in the myelin thickness and axon and fiber diameter in comparison with the control and 3-week tacrolimus-treated groups. The G-ratio was found to be in normal range in all groups and there were no statistically significant difference. The present study indicates that the treatment with tacrolimus may produce a mild degenerative change but prolonged drug administration for 3 weeks led to improvement in morphometric and morphologic data and the normal G-ratio values, suggesting that the regeneration capacity of the myelinated fibers maintains their normal function to transmit nerve impulses.