Cyclosporine neurotoxicity: a review

J Neurol. 1999 May;246(5):339-46. doi: 10.1007/s004150050360.


Cyclosporin A (CsA) induces neurological side effects in up to 40% of patients. A reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome is the most serious complication. Symptoms include headache, altered mental functioning, seizures, cortical blindness, and other visual disturbances, with hypertension. Neuroimaging studies show white matter changes in the posterior regions of the brain. Other neurological side effects of CsA include tremor, diffuse encephalopathy, cerebellar syndrome, extrapyramidal syndrome, pyramidal weakness, and peripheral neuropathy. Hypertension, hypomagnesemia, hypocholesteremia, and the vasoactive agent endothelin may all play a role in the pathogenesis of CsA neurotoxicty. Neurotoxicity is more frequent with high CsA blood levels, but levels may be within the therapeutic range. Dose reduction or withdrawal of CsA usually results in resolution of clinical symptoms and of neuroimaging abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cyclosporine / poisoning*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / poisoning*
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neurotoxins / pharmacology*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Neurotoxins
  • Cyclosporine