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What is an Immunosuppressant?

MVSAT 2024

An immunosuppressant is a medicine or drug that lowers a person’s capability to reject the transplanted organ. Immunosuppressant drugs are also called anti-rejection drugs. Commonly, people come across a couple of immunosuppressants like:

  • Maintenance drugs – This comprises anti rejection medicines that a patient takes for a long time.

  • Induction drugs – The induction drugs are potent anti rejection medications that are taken during the time of transplant.

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What are the Uses of Immunosuppressive Drugs?

Immunosuppressive drugs are some classes of drugs that lessen, suppress, or strengthen the immune system of a person’s body. A few drugs are utilized for making the human body less likely to reject some transplanted organs, like kidneys, heart, or liver. There are some other immunosuppressant drugs too that are utilized for treating a few autoimmune disorders, like psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus. 

If a physician recommends a patient immunosuppressive medication, then he should be aware of the functions of these drugs, the method in which they work, besides how these medications might make him feel.

Types of Immunosuppressive Agent

Corticosteroids is the most common immunosuppressant that most doctors prescribe. Based on the condition and symptoms the doctor prescribes one immunosuppressive or a combination of it.

Liquid, pill or Injection shot, immunosuppressives can be of any type. The types include -

  • Calcineurin inhibitors like tacrolimus and cyclosporine.

  • Biologics such as infliximab , adalimumab etc.

  • Corticosteroids (prednisone).

  • Janus kinase like tofacitinib.

  • Inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase like mycophenolate mofetil.

  • Rapamycin as sirolimus.

  • Monoclonal antibodies like basiliximab.

Get known to the Theory of Immunosuppression

Immunosuppressive therapy is commonly utilized for aiding organ transplants. The body of a patient does feel a foreign object before his immune system does attack it. Immunosuppressive drugs are helpful in lessening the danger of a patient who rejects a new organ. This therapy is considered a drug routine that patients utilize for lowering the immune responses of their bodies. These drugs turn helpful to the doctors for stopping patients’ immune systems from overreacting as well as damaging transplanted tissues and organs. Commonly, everyone is needed to take some immunosuppressant drugs while getting an organ transplant. Only in some cases a patient doesn’t take these drugs.

What are the Conditions that Immunosuppressive Therapy Treats?

Immunosuppressive therapy turns useful for treating some immunosuppressive diseases besides organ transplants, and they are:

  • Multiple sclerosis 

  • Inflammatory bowel disease, like Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes or MDS

  • Lupus

  • Aplastic anaemia

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

What are the Immunosuppressant Side Effects?

The side effects of immunosuppressants do vary for different immunosuppressant drugs that are obtainable. For finding out the side effects, you need to consult your physician or the pharmacist. Nonetheless, it is important to note that every immunosuppressant drug carries a severe danger of infection. If an immunosuppressant drug does weaken your immune system, then your body turns less resistant to infections. It also means they turn you more prone to getting infections. This also signifies that the infections will turn out to be tougher for treating.

When you get the symptoms of infection mentioned below, you need to get in touch with a physician.

  • Trouble in urinating

  • Chills or fever

  • Pain when you urinate

  • Pain in your lower back’s side

  • Weakness or abnormal tiredness

  • Frequent urination

You need to be mindful that immunosuppressants can leave a potent effect on your body, and so, a healthcare provider does suggest having regular blood tests done. This will ensure that the levels of medication have not reached a higher level. Some other side effects are:

  • Diabetes

  • Acne

  • Headaches

  • The slow growth of hair

  • Fatigue

  • Tremors

  • High blood pressure

  • Stomach upset along with vomiting and nausea

  • Weight gain

  • Thinning bones or osteoporosis

  • Mouth sores

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FAQs on Immunosuppressant

1. What are the well-known immunosuppressant medications?

A person’s immune system identifies and attacks nearly everything that is different from various substances that remain present in a person’s body. The immune system doesn’t differentiate between transplanted organs and damaging substances, such as viruses, fungi, and bacteria. Hence, a person’s immune system does respond to his new kidney in the form of a foreign substance. And so, it is required to be eliminated.

The immunosuppressants list is:

  • Antifungal medications

  • Tacrolimus

  • Cyclosporine

  • Sirolimus

  • Mycophenolate mofetil

  • Diuretics

  • Prednisone

  • Azathioprine

  • Daclizumab and Basiliximab

  • OKT3

  • Antibiotics

  • Antiviral medications

  • Anti-Ulcer medications

2. How do immunosuppressants turn out to be helpful in autoimmune disease?

When a person has got an autoimmune disease, then his immune system mistakes healthy cells and tissues for some foreign invaders, like germs. Essentially, his immune system turns against his body before attacking it. Based on the part of your body that is being attacked, this response does result in various kinds of autoimmune diseases. An immunosuppressant holds back a person’s immune system and helps in preventing inflammation and cell damage. These drugs also remain helpful for lessening symptoms. The immunosuppressants are also capable of putting autoimmune diseases into remission. You might need immunosuppressants when you have got an autoimmune disease like:

  • Multiple sclerosis

  • Alopecia areata

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • Lupus

3. How should you take immunosuppressants?

An immunosuppressant has potent effects, and so, it becomes important for a person to follow the directives of his healthcare provider strictly. He should take only the recommended medication daily and that too at the same time. If you skip medicine one day, then it can give rise to an autoimmune disease flare-up. For a transplant recipient, missed doses can put a person at risk for some GVHD complications or organ rejection. You need to contact your provider when you miss a dose. A woman who takes immunosuppressants must have a consultation with his healthcare provider before she conceives, as a few immunosuppressants do cause some birth defects.

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