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Cyclosporine was discovered in 1972 and first used in humans in 1978 as an immunosuppressant drug used to prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ. Cyclosporine is typically used to reduce the body’s natural immunity in patients who receive kidney, liver and heart transplants, and can also be used to treat severe cases of psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.


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  • Tell your doctor if you have ever had liver or kidney disease, high blood pressure, low cholesterol or low levels of magnesium in your blood.
  • If you can, avoid contact with people with colds or other infections.
  • Avoid persons who have recently taken oral polio vaccine. Do not get close to them, and do not stay in the same room with them for very long. If you cannot take these precautions, you should consider wearing a protective facemask that covers the nose and mouth.
  • While you are taking cyclosporine, it is important to maintain good dental hygiene and see a dentist regularly for teeth cleaning.

How cyclosprine works

Cyclosporine reduces the ability of accessory cells to produce interleukins, resulting in decreased replication of helper and killer T cells. Because of its specificity and effectiveness, cyclosporine has revolutionized the practice of clinical transplantation and dramatically improved success rates for all organs.

Taking cyclosporine

  • Take cyclosporine exactly as directed by your doctor. If you do not understand these directions, ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist to explain them to you.
  • Keep cyclosporine in the container it came in, tightly closed and out of the reach of children.
  • Store cyclosporine at room temperature and away from heat and direct light.
  • Do not store cyclosporine in the refrigerator.
  • Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed and do not keep the liquid more than two months.
  • Talk to your pharmacist about the proper disposal of your medication.


If you miss a dose. When you start to take cyclosporine, ask your doctor what you should do if you forget a dose. Write down these directions so that you can refer to them later. If you miss more than one dose, it is important that you call your doctor.

Over Dosage. In case of overdose, call your local poison control center. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

Common side effects

Side effects from cyclosporine are common. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • breast enlargement
  • diarrhea
  • increased hair growth
  • loss of appetite
  • sinusitis
  • upset stomach
  • vomiting
  • tender, swollen and/or bleeding gums

Dangerous side effects

If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • tremors
  • seizures
  • overgrowth of the gums
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • sore throat, fever and/or chills
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • swelling (feet, ankles, lower legs, and hands)
  • weight gain
  • headache or muscle aches
  • changes in vision
  • lack of control over body movement
  • pain during urination or decreased urination
  • confusion

Cyclosprine and pregnancy

Some women who received cyclosporine during pregnancy delivered their babies prematurely, and some babies were smaller than average when they were born. Additionally, some babies had birth defects. It is not certain that these birth defects occurred because of the use of cyclosporine by the mothers.

Cyclosporine also passes into breast milk and may cause the same side effects in the baby that it does in people taking it. It may be necessary for you to stop breast-feeding during treatment. Be sure you have discussed the risks and benefits of the medicine with your doctor.

Drug interactions

Before taking cyclosporine, tell your doctor if you are taking, have taken, or need to take any of the following medicines:

Amiloride (e.g. Midamor); Spironolactone (e.g. Aldactone); or Triamterene (e.g. Dyrenium); Allopurinol (e.g. Zyloprim); Androgens; Bromocriptine (e.g. Parlodel); Cimetidine (e.g. Tagamet); Clarithromycin (e.g. Biaxin); Danazol (e.g. Danocrine); Diltiazem (e.g. Cardizem); Erythromycins; Estrogens; Fluconazole (e.g. Diflucan); Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) protease inhibitors (e.g. Crixivan, Fortovase, Invirase, Norvir, Viracept); Itraconazole (e.g. Sporanox); Ketoconazole (e.g. Nizoral); Nefazodone (e.g. Serzone); Nicardipine (e.g. Cardene); Verapamil (e.g. Calan, Covera-HS, Isoptin, Verelan); Azathioprine (e.g. Imuran); Chlorambucil (e.g. Leukeran); Corticosteroids; Cyclophosphamide (e.g. Cytoxan); Mercaptopurine (e.g. Purinethol); Muromonab-CD3 (e.g. Orthoclone OKT3); Coal tar (e.g. Balnetar, Zetar); Methoxsalen (e.g. Oxsoralen); Radiation therapy; Trioxsalen (e.g. Trisoralen); Lovastatin (e.g. Mevacor); Simvastatin (e.g. Zocor);

Brand Names

Neoral, manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Sandimmune, manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

Reference and Publication Information

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