Saturday, November 12, 2005

Immunosuppressive Drugs

Tacrolimus (Prograf) is one of the frequently used immunosuppressive drug whose main role is to reduce the activity of the human immune system. It has similar immunosuppressive properties to cyclosporine, but is much more potent in equal volumes. Also like cyclosporine it has a wide range of adverse interactions, including that with grapefruit which increases plasma tacrolimus concentration. Tacrolimus is used for people who have had liver or kidney transplants to keep their bodies from attacking their new organs. Researchers hope tacrolimus can help people with rheumatoid arthritis by stopping T cells from causing inflammation in joints.
Protopic or tacrolimus is a recent topical treatment of eczema, particularly atopic eczema. It suppresses inflammation in a similar way to steroids, but is not as powerful. An important dermatological advantage of tacrolimus is that it can be used directly on the face; topical steroids cannot be used on the face, as they thin the skin dramatically there. On other parts of the body, topical steroid are generally a better treatment. A common side effect of tacrolimus ointment, if used over a wide area, is to cause a burning or itching sensation on the first one or two applications.


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