Tacrolimus in dermatology

J Cutan Med Surg. 2001 Jul-Aug;5(4):329-35. doi: 10.1007/s102270000022. Epub 2001 May 2.


Background: Tacrolimus (FK 506), a metabolite of the fungus Streptomyces tsukubaensis, is an anti-T-cell drug. It acts by inhibiting the production of IL-2, IL-3, IL-4, TNFa, and GM-CSF. More potent and with slightly less secondary effects than cyclosporine, it has been the object of considerable interest, especially in conditions that could benefit from the latter.

Objective: In psoriasis, a placebo-controlled double-blind study has shown oral tacrolimus at 0.1 mg/kg/day to be effective in controlling recalcitrant lesions. In human, small studies have reported tacrolimus ointment to be effective in controlling acute contact dermatitis. Short-term trials of topical tacrolimus in the treatment of atopic dermatitis have recently shown excellent results in both adults and children. In animal studies of hair growth disorders, topical tacrolimus induces anagen and protects from chemotherapy-induced alopecia. Animal studies with the ointment for the prevention of skin graft rejection, lupus dermatoses, and skin papilloma formation have also shown to be promising.

Conclusions: There are case reports of pyoderma gangrenosum, Sezary's syndrome, and Behcet's disease successfully treated with oral tacrolimus but, because of their small number, they remain anecdotal at this point.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Behcet Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Child
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Cricetinae
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis, Contact / drug therapy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Hair / drug effects
  • Hair / growth & development
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous / drug therapy
  • Mice
  • Placebos
  • Psoriasis / drug therapy
  • Pyoderma Gangrenosum / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Rats
  • Sezary Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Skin Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Skin Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Skin Transplantation
  • Tacrolimus / administration & dosage
  • Tacrolimus / pharmacology
  • Tacrolimus / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Placebos
  • Tacrolimus