Review of Cyclosporine Immunosuppressive Safety Data in Dermatology Patients after two Decades of Use

March 2005 | Volume 4 | Issue 2 | Original Article | 189 | Copyright © March 2005

Shahrad M. Behnam BS, Shahdad E. Behnam MD, John Y. Koo MD

Cyclosporine is an immunosuppressive agent that has been shown to be effective in the treatment of psoriasis. However, its serious side effects in transplant patients have hindered many dermatologists from exploiting its therapeutic capabilities. The literature contains reports of lymphomas, internal malignancies, skin cancers, and serious infections in psoriasis patients on cyclosporine therapy. However, no study has evaluated the relative risk of these side effects in relation to the general population, nor monitored the patients for years after cyclosporine was discontinued. The recently published 5-year cohort study is the most rigorous data to date on the long-term safety of cyclosporine and shows no increased risk of lymphoma or internal malignancies. The study, however, illustrates increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancers, especially squamous cell carcinoma. Review of the literature does not suggest any increased risk of opportunistic infections or tuberculosis reactivation. These data suggest that cyclosporine in dermatologic dosage (3-5 mg/kg/d) is safe and dermatologists may consider using it.