Which medications in the drug class Immunosuppressants are used in the treatment of Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease?

Updated: Oct 16, 2018
  • Author: Hakim Azfar Ali, MD; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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These agents have immunosuppressive properties.

Azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan)

Azathioprine is an imidazolyl derivative of 6-mercaptopurine, and many of its biologic effects are similar to those of its parent compound. Both compounds are eliminated rapidly from blood and are oxidized or methylated in erythrocytes and the liver. No azathioprine or mercaptopurine is detectable in urine 8 hours after administration.

Azathioprine antagonizes purine metabolism and inhibits the synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), and proteins. The mechanism through which azathioprine affects autoimmune diseases is unknown. The drug works primarily on T cells. It suppresses hypersensitivities of the cell-mediated type and causes variable alterations in antibody production. Immunosuppressive, delayed hypersensitivity, and cellular cytotoxicity test results are suppressed to a greater degree than are antibody responses.

Azathioprine works very slowly; it may require 3-6 months of trial prior to effect. Up to 10% of patients may have an idiosyncratic reaction to the drug, disallowing use. The white blood cell (WBC) count must not be allowed to drop below 3000/µL or the lymphocyte count be allowed to drop below 1000/µL. Azathioprine is available in tablet form for oral administration or in 100mg vials for intravenous injection.

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