Immunosuppressive drugs are most extensively employed therapies used to obstruct or avert action of the immune system. Immunosuppressive treatments are generally employed to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs and tissues including bone marrow, heart, kidney, or liver. Immunosuppressive drugs are also effective in the management of several autoimmune diseases or ailments that are most likely to occur from autoimmune origin including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, psoriasis, vitiligo, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis. Sometimes, non-autoimmune inflammatory diseases like chronic allergic asthma and ankylosing spondylitis are also managed easily by using Immunosuppressive drugs.
The main purpose of utilizing Immunosuppressive drugs is to induce immunosuppression and causes immunodeficiency, which further diminishes the risk of rejection of foreign body (like a transplanted organ). After organ transplantation, the body will have a tendency to reject the new organ due to dissimilarities in human leukocyte antigen between the donor and recipient. Consequently, the body detects new organ as a foreign body and the body tries to reject the transplanted organ by attacking it with white blood cells.
Immunosuppressive drugs are generally categorized into 5 different categories:
- Glucocorticoids: Prednisone, Dexamethasone
- Cytostatics: Cyclophosphamide, Nitrosoureas, Methotrexate, Fluorouracil, Mercaptopurine
- Antibodies: Polyclonal antibodies, Monoclonal antibodies, T-cell receptor directed antibodies
- Drugs acting on immunophilins: Ciclosporin, Tacrolimus, Sirolimus, Everolimus
- Other drugs: Interferons, Opioids, TNF binding proteins, Mycophenolate