Brands, Medical Use, Clinical Data
Brands / Synonyms
FK5; Prograf; Protopic; Tacarolimus
For use after allogenic organ transplant to reduce the activity of the patient's immune system and so the risk of organ rejection. It was first approved by the FDA in 1994 for use in liver transplantation, this has been extended to include kidney, heart, small bowel, pancreas, lung, trachea, skin, cornea, and limb transplants. It has also been used in a topical preparation in the treatment of severe atopic dermatitis.
Tacrolimus is a macrolide antibiotic. It acts by reducing peptidyl-prolyl isomerase activity by binding to the immunophilin FKBP-12 (FK506 binding protein) creating a new complex. This inhibits both T-lymphocyte signal transduction and IL-2 transcription. Although this activity is similar to cyclosporine studies have shown that the incidence of acute rejection is reduced by tacrolimus use over cyclosporine. Tacrolimus has also been shown to be effective in the topical treatment of eczema, particularly atopic eczema. It suppresses inflammation in a similar way to steroids, but is not as powerful. An important dermatological advantage of tacrolimus is that it can be used directly on the face; topical steroids cannot be used on the face, as they thin the skin dramatically there. On other parts of the body, topical steroid are generally a better treatment.
Mechanism of Action
The mechanism of action of tacrolimus in atopic dermatitis is not known. While the following have been observed, the clinical significance of these observations in atopic dermatitis is not known. It has been demonstrated that tacrolimus inhibits T-lymphocyte activation by first binding to an intracellular protein, FKBP-12. A complex of tacrolimus-FKBP-12, calcium, calmodulin, and calcineurin is then formed and the phosphatase activity of calcineurin is inhibited. This prevents the dephosphorylation and translocation of nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NF-AT), a nuclear component thought to initiate gene transcription for the formation of lymphokines. Tacrolimus also inhibits the transcription for genes which encode IL-3, IL-4, IL-5, GM-CSF, and TNF-, all of which are involved in the early stages of T-cell activation. Additionally, tacrolimus has been shown to inhibit the release of pre-formed mediators from skin mast cells and basophils, and to downregulate the expression of FceRI on Langerhans cells.
20% bioavailability; less after eating food rich in fat
Side effects can be severe and include blurred vision, liver and kidney problems (it is nephrotoxic), seizures, tremors, hypertension, hypomagnesemia, diabetes mellitus, hyperkalemia, itching, insomnia, confusion. LD50=134-194 mg/kg (rat).
Biotrnasformation / Drug Metabolism
Hepatic, extensive, primarily by CYP3A4. The major metabolite identified in incubations with human liver microsomes is 13-demethyl tacrolimus. In in vitro studies, a 31-demethyl metabolite has been reported to have the same activity as tacrolimus.
PROTOPIC Ointment is contraindicated in patients with a history of hypersensitivity to tacrolimus or
any other component of the preparation.
Formal topical drug interaction studies with PROTOPIC Ointment have not been conducted. Based on its minimal
extent of absorption, interactions of PROTOPIC Ointment with systemically administered drugs are unlikely to occur
but cannot be ruled out. The concomitant administration of known CYP3A4 inhibitors in patients with widespread and/or
erythrodermic disease should be done with caution. Some examples of such drugs are erythromycin, itraconazole,
ketoconazole, fluconazole, calcium channel blockers and cimetidine.