Oral cyclosporine treatment in dogs: a review of the literature

J Vet Intern Med. Jan-Feb 2014;28(1):1-20. doi: 10.1111/jvim.12265. Epub 2013 Dec 16.


Cyclosporine is an immunomodulatory drug used to treat an increasing spectrum of diseases in dogs. Cyclosporine is a calcineurin inhibitor, ultimately exerting its inhibitory effects on T-lymphocytes by decreasing production of cytokines, such as interleukin-2. Although, in the United States, oral cyclosporine is approved in dogs only for treatment of atopic dermatitis, there are many other indications for its use. Cyclosporine is available in 2 oral formulations: the original oil-based formulation and the more commonly used ultramicronized emulsion that facilitates oral absorption. Ultramicronized cyclosporine is available as an approved animal product, and human proprietary and generic preparations are also available. Bioavailability of the different formulations in dogs is likely to vary among the preparations. Cyclosporine is associated with a large number of drug interactions that can also influence blood cyclosporine concentrations. Therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) can be used to assist in attaining consistent plasma cyclosporine concentrations despite the effects of varying bioavailability and drug interactions. TDM can facilitate therapeutic success by guiding dose adjustments on an individualized basis, and is recommended in cases that do not respond to initial oral dosing, or during treatment of severe, life-threatening diseases for which a trial-and-error approach to dose adjustment is too risky. Pharmacodynamic assays that evaluate individual patient immune responses to cyclosporine can be used to augment information provided by TDM.

Keywords: Cyclosporine; Pharmacodynamics; Pharmacokinetics; Therapeutic drug monitoring.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / veterinary*
  • Biological Availability
  • Cyclosporine / administration & dosage
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy
  • Dog Diseases / immunology*
  • Dogs
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine