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Ther Umsch. 2011 Dec;68(12):679-86. doi: 10.1024/0040-5930/a000230.

[Immunosuppressive drugs - how they work, their side effects and interactions].

[Article in German]

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Universit├Ątsklinik f├╝r Nephrologie und Hypertonie, Inselspital, Bern.


The central issue in organ transplantation remains suppression of allograft rejection. Immunosuppression can be achieved by depleting lymphocytes, diverting lymphocyte traffic, or blocking lymphocyte response pathways. Immunosuppressive drugs include small-molecule drugs, depleting and nondepleting protein drugs (polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies), fusion proteins, intravenous immune globulin, and glucocorticoids. Small-molecule immunosuppressive agents include calcineurin-inhibitors (cyclosporine, tacrolimus), Target-of-Rapamycin Inhibitors (Sirolimus, Everolimus), inhibitors of nucleotide synthesis and azathioprine. The review covers the mode of action of these drugs with a special focus on belatacept, a new promising fusion protein. Different immuo-suppressive strategies mean also different safety profiles. Common side effects include the consequences of diminished immuno- response, i.e. infections and cancer (mainly involving the skin). Toxic side effects of immunosuppressive drugs range in a wide spectrum that involves almost every organ. The major interest of this toxic effects is the cardiovascular tolerance (with large differences from drug to drug), that are discussed seperately. The calcineurin- and mTOR-inhibitors are both metabolized by the CYP450 3A4 enzyme, which is also involved in the metabolism of many other drugs. The review discusses the most important interactions that in- or decreases the through level of these drugs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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