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Immunosuppressive Medications Definition
Drugs that limit or suppress some aspect of the IMMUNE RESPONSE. Immunosuppressive medications such as cyclosporine work by many different mechanisms with the goal being to block the body’s rejection of a transplanted organ or bone marrow and to prevent GRAFT VS. HOST DISEASE. Common immunosuppressive medications include
- CORTICOSTEROID MEDICATIONS, which inhibit the production of eosinophils, suppress the COMPLEMENT CASCADE, and block the activation of antibodies
- DISEASE-MODIFYING ANTIRHEUMATIC DRUGS (DMARDS), which block the immune response in such of a way as to alter, at least temporarily, the course of the disease
- cytotoxic agents, which kill cells (cells that replicate rapidly, such as BLOOD cells, are more greatly affected)
Treating with Immunosuppressive Medications and Side Effects
Doctors prescribe immunosuppressive medications to treat AUTOIMMUNE DISORDERS, HYPERSENSITIVITY REACTION, and to prevent an immune response that targets a transplanted organ. Often doctors prescribe these medications in combination to quell the immune response on several fronts. This allows lower dosages for each type of medication, reducing the overall amount of medication the person must take and minimizing side effects. The approach also provides greater relief in severe presentations of chronic inflammatory diseases such as RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS and SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (SLE).
Immunosuppressive medications have numerous side effects, drug interactions, and risks specific to the medication. In general, the primary risk of immunosuppressive medications is INFETION, particularly OPPORTUNISTIC INFECTION. Though doctors try to maintain a balance of immune suppression that controls symptoms yet allows the body to protect itself from infection, IMMUNOSUPPRESSIVE THERAPY opens the gateway for pathogens to invade. Aggressive antibiotic therapy then becomes necessary to eradicate the infection.