The immune system is the ultimate part of health and protection. The immune system is a defense system. It involves several processes and biological structures within an organism that protects against disease. A well-functional immune system detects a wide variety of agents from viruses to parasitic worms and identifies them from the organism’s own healthy tissues. They have the ability to distinguish the foreign agents and protect the body from getting infected from them.
However, there are times when the natural protective mechanism that causes complications in the human body. In this case, immunosuppressive agents are given to patients who experience this kind of condition to reduce the efficiency of the immune system. Immunosuppressive agents are drugs that reduce body’s natural immune responses especially during organ transplant and sometimes to treat immune disorders.
Classification of Immunosuppressive agents
There are several types of immunosuppressive agents.
- Anti-rejection immunosuppressant – these agents are prescribed when there is an acute rejection by the body after a transplant surgery. It is given to the patient for 30 days and all the immunosuppressant drugs are in this category.
- Induction immunosuppressant – the drugs under this category are prescribed after transplant to prevent acute rejection. They are recommended for a short period of time only. This is to help avoid rejection of transplanted organs by the body.
- Maintenance immunosuppressant – these are the drugs that are given to maintain the suppression effect of the immune system.
Uses of immunosuppressant
Immunosuppressant drugs are used to patients in various conditions such as:
- Curing non-autoimmune conditions like chronic allergic asthma
- Rejection of transplanted tissue or organ
- Autoimmune disease conditions like Rheumatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and Systemic Erythematous
- Cyclosporine – this is a calcineurin inhibitor that interferes with the cell-mediated immune reactions. This is given in rejection of transplanted kidneys.
- Cyclophosphamide – this is the most potent drug and is used in an autoimmune disease like Systemic Erythematous
- Dactinomycin and Bleomycin – are cytotoxic antibiotics used for kidney transplantation
- Glucocorticoids and Vitamin D Analogs – these drugs are most prescribed in induction as well as in maintenance phase which is widely employed in autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
- Methotrexate and Azathioprine – these are medicines for rheumatoid arthritis and in transplant rejection reactions. These are cell cycle inhibitors that stop the formation of cells that cause an immune response.
Possible side effects and risk
Possible side effects may vary from different patients.
- Swelling of feet and abdomen
- Increased craving of food
- Prolonged healing of wound
- Loss of hair from the head and body
- Increased craving for food
- Unwanted hair growth
- Impaired digestion
- Kidney damage
- Mood swings
- High cholesterol levels
- Impaired immune system making person more prone to other infections
The following are some preventive measures to control more complicated conditions:
- Stay away from crowded areas
- Avoid having contact with sick people
- Always wash hands properly
- Bath daily and keep the mouth clean by keeping the teeth clean
- Have a regular checkup and refill of medicines timely
- Keep a track record of the medication
- Be cautious while using sharp knives and blades
- Do not ignore minor bleeding and take first aid measures
- Store medication in a cool, dry place, and away from children.
- If any adverse side effects occur, consult your doctor right away.
- Do stop taking the medicine without your doctor’s approval.