[Safety of immunosuppressants]

Z Rheumatol. 2012 Jul;71(5):420-9. doi: 10.1007/s00393-012-0990-z.
[Article in German]


Metabolism: Cyclosporin A and leflunomide may increase the blood pressure, whereas administration of prednisolone and tacrolimus may cause hyperglycemia. Azathioprine, chloroquine, methotrexate and mycophenolate mofetil seem to be metabolically neutral. Tocilizumab and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha blockers have a negative effect on the lipid profile.

Infections: The overall infection risk for prednisolone is estimated to be 1.3. This risk for methotrexate is also 1.3 compared to other disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Regarding biologics, the highest risk of serious infections was associated with certolizumab pegol and tocilizumab, in contrast to abatacept and rituximab which showed the lowest risk. CANCER RISK: Azathioprine and cyclosporin A are associated with a markedly increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer. According to the RABBIT registry no significant increase in tumor rate has been reported for biologics. PREGNANCY: Azathioprine, chloroquine, cyclosporin A, prednisolone, sulfasalazine, tacrolimus and cyclophosphamide (only after the second trimester) may be administered during pregnancy. Biologics should be avoided unless there is a treatment need in cases of uncontrolled disease activity. BREAST FEEDING: Only chloroquine, prednisolone, sulfasalazine and tacrolimus may be taken during breast feeding. There are insufficient data on the safety of biologics.

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / chemically induced*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Metabolic Diseases / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced*
  • Pregnancy Complications / prevention & control
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment


  • Immunosuppressive Agents