UMEM Educational Pearls

Category: Toxicology

Title: Transplant Drugs - Cyclosporine and Tacrolimus

Keywords: transplant, cyclosporine, tacrolimus (PubMed Search)

Posted: 6/21/2012 by Fermin Barrueto, MD (Updated: 8/21/2019)
Click here to contact Fermin Barrueto, MD

Transplant patients are the norm now in the ED. Their drug lists are immense and are usually on some form of immunosuppression to prevent rejection of the transplanted organ. Two common medications are cyclosporine and tacrolimus. They share many adverse effects like hepatotoxicity, nephrotoxicity and hypertension. Here is the mechanism of action and some unique adverse effects to these powerful immunosuppressants (there are many more so be wary):

1) Cyclosporine - suppresses T-cell activation and growth. Unique toxicity - painful neuropathy of the fingertips and toes, cortical blindness

2) Tacrolimus - simiar to cyclosporine but actually hampers T-cell communication/signal transduction. Unique toxicity - can also cause cortical blindness but is also known to cause diabetes/hyperglycemiad