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What Are the Uses of Cyclosporine Therapy?

By Emma Miller
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are many conditions that can be treated through the use of cyclosporine therapy. Cyclosporine is most commonly used as a standalone or combination therapy to suppress certain parts of the immune system in organ transplant patients or people who have certain autoimmune conditions. There are potentially serious side effects that are possible with cyclosporine therapy, including increased susceptibility to infections, gastrointestinal upset, allergic reactions and a slightly higher occurrence of certain cancers, such as lymphoma.

Cyclosporine belongs to a class of medications known as immunosuppressants. In cases when a normal immune system response would be detrimental to a person, immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine might be used to blunt immune reactions. Cyclosporine is widely used by patients following organ transplants, as part of a combination therapy of immunosuppressant medications. The possibility of organ rejection is reduced because cyclosporine therapy helps suppress the body's immune response to a transplanted organ. The drug is commonly used for heart, liver, kidney and bone marrow transplants but might sometimes be used for corneal transplants as well.

Patients who have autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and psoriasis, might also benefit from cyclosporine therapy. When a patient has an autoimmune disorder, the patient's immune system turns against his or her own organs or organ systems. In cases of severe disease, when the function of an organ or the life of a patient is at risk, immunosuppressants such as cyclosporine typically are used. Cyclosporine therapy decreases the possibility and strength of any immune system attacks against the patient. This usually is a standalone treatment for autoimmune conditions.

Cyclosporine dosage is weight-related, and the standard dose for severe autoimmune disorders is 2.5 milligrams per 2.2 pounds (1.0 kg) per day. The medication might be taken once or twice a day. Organ transplant recipients are usually on higher doses of the drug, depending mainly on the type of transplant they’ve received.

This drug usually is taken in oral form, but it can be given intravenously to Crohn’s patients who have poor intestinal absorption or as a rapid induction of immune suppression immediately following an organ transplant. People who are undergoing treatment with cyclosporine should avoid the use of live vaccines. Side effects of cyclosporine therapy, which are a result of its immunosuppressive effects, include an increased risk of skin cancer and lymphoma as well as a higher risk of opportunistic infections.

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