Preliminary risk-benefit assessment of mycophenolate mofetil in transplant rejection

Drug Saf. 1997 Aug;17(2):75-92. doi: 10.2165/00002018-199717020-00001.


Mycophenolate mofetil (the morpholinoethyl ester of mycophenolic acid) inhibits de novo purine synthesis via the inhibition of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase. Its selective lymphocyte antiproliferative effects involve both T and B cells, preventing antibody formation. Mycophenolate mofetil has immuno-suppressive effects alone, but is used most commonly in combination with other immunosuppressants. Mycophenolate mofetil, in combination with cyclosporin and corticosteroids, has been studied in large, randomised clinical trials involving nearly 1500 renal allograft transplant recipients. These trials demonstrated that mycophenolate mofetil is significantly more effective in reducing treatment failure and acute rejection episodes than placebo or azathioprine. Additionally, mycophenolate mofetil may be able to reduce the occurrence of chronic rejection. Mycophenolate mofetil is relatively well tolerated. The most common adverse effect reported is gastrointestinal intolerance; haematological aberrations have also been noted. The reversible cytostatic action of mycophenolate mofetil allows for dose adjustment or discontinuation, preventing serious toxicity or an overly suppressed immune system. Cytomegalovirus tissue invasive disease and the development of malignancies are concerns that merit evaluation in long term follow-up studies. Mycophenolate mofetil does not cause the adverse effects typically associated with other commercially available immunosuppressant medications such as nephrotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, hypertension, nervous system disturbances, electrolyte abnormalities, skin disorders, hyperglycaemia, hyperuricaemia, hypercholesterolaemia, lipid disorders and structural bone loss. Based on preliminary information, a positive benefit-risk ratio has been demonstrated with the use of mycophenolate mofetil in the prophylaxis of rejection in cadaveric renal allograft transplantation. Data from studies in other types of organ transplants are promising, but are too limited to draw clear conclusions. Long term follow-up studies are required to confirm these observations. Although mycophenolate mofetil is expensive, the beneficial effects on the reduction of rejection, treatment failure and related expenses suggest that it is most likely to be cost effective.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Graft Rejection / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Mycophenolic Acid / adverse effects
  • Mycophenolic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Mycophenolic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Prodrugs / adverse effects*
  • Prodrugs / therapeutic use*
  • Risk Factors
  • Transplantation Immunology


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Prodrugs
  • Mycophenolic Acid