Clinically significant drug interactions with cyclosporin. An update

Clin Pharmacokinet. 1996 Feb;30(2):141-79. doi: 10.2165/00003088-199630020-00004.


Since its approval in 1983 for immunosuppressive therapy in patients undergoing organ and bone marrow transplants, cyclosporin has had a major impact on organ transplantation. It has significantly improved 1-year and 2-year graft survival rates, and decreased morbidity in kidney, liver, heart, heart-lung and pancreas transplantation. Several studies have supported the efficacy of cyclosporin in preventing graft-versus-host disease in bone marrow transplantation. Cyclosporin is also possibly effective in treating diseases of autoimmune origin and as an antineoplastic agent. The introduction of therapeutic drug monitoring of cyclosporin was extremely useful because of the wide inter- and intraindividual variability in the pharmacokinetics of cyclosporin after oral or intravenous administration. Optimal long term use of cyclosporin requires careful monitoring of the blood (or plasma) concentrations. Sustained and clinically significant drug-drug interactions can occur during long term therapy with cyclosporin. The coadministration of multiple drugs with cyclosporin could result in graft rejection, renal dysfunction or other undesirable effects. Any interaction that leads to modified cyclosporin concentrations is of potential clinical importance. Cyclosporin itself may have significant effects on the pharmacokinetics and/or pharmacodynamics of coadministered drugs, such as digoxin, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors and antineoplastic drugs affected by multidrug resistance. Many drugs have been shown to affect the pharmacokinetics and/or pharmacodynamics of cyclosporin. Interactions between cyclosporin and danazol, diltiazem, erythromycin, fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, metoclopramide, nicardipine, verapamil, carbamazepine, phenobarbital (phenobarbitone), phenytoin, rifampicin (rifampin) and cotrimoxazole (trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole) are well documented in a large number of patients. Other interactions (such as those with aciclovir, estradiol and imipenem) are documented only in isolated case studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Administration, Oral
  • Cyclosporine / administration & dosage
  • Cyclosporine / adverse effects
  • Cyclosporine / blood
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Dosage Forms
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / administration & dosage
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Kidney / drug effects*
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Dosage Forms
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine