Adverse events associated with the use of cyclosporine in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Am J Gastroenterol. 2008 Apr;103(4):937-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2007.01718.x. Epub 2008 Jan 2.


Background: Intravenous cyclosporine (i.v. CsA) is an effective therapy for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, data regarding its adverse events in these patients are limited.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of the initial 111 consecutive patients with IBD treated with i.v. CsA followed by a predetermined duration of oral therapy.

Results: One hundred eleven patients (64 UC, 47 CD; mean age 33 yr, range 16-68) received i.v. CsA at 4 mg/kg/day, then oral CsA at 8 mg/kg/day, with dose adjustment based on serum creatinine. The mean treatment duration was 9.3 months (range 1 wk to 34 months). Major adverse events occurred in 17 (15.3%) patients. Nephrotoxicity (serum creatinine > or = 1.4 mg/dL [123 micromol/L] or a rise by at least 33% over baseline not responding to dose adjustment) sufficiently severe to warrant discontinuation of therapy occurred in 6 (5.4%) patients. Serious infection occurred in 7 (6.3%) patients, seizures in 4 (3.6%) patients, anaphylaxis in 1 (0.9%) patient, and death in 2 (1.8%) patients. Minor adverse events (transient effects with complete resolution either spontaneously or with dose adjustment) comprised: paresthesias (51%), hypomagnesemia (42%), hypertension (39%), hypertrichosis (27%), headache (23%), minor nephrotoxicity (defined as above but with restoration of normal serum creatinine with dose adjustment; 19% of patients), abnormal liver function tests (19%), minor infections (15%), hyperkalemia (13%), and gingival swelling (4%).

Conclusions: In our initial experience, limited duration CsA therapy was frequently associated with adverse events although the majority of these were minor and responded to dose adjustment. Although not all severe adverse events can be clearly attributed to CsA use alone, its high incidence suggests that vigorous monitoring by experienced clinicians at tertiary care centers may be required.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cyclosporine / administration & dosage
  • Cyclosporine / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine