Active Ingredients

Mycophenolic acid – effect, application & risks

Mycophenolic acid

Mycophenolic acid is a drug that belongs to the drug class of immunosuppressants . It was the first characteristic antibiotic to be researched in terms of its mode of action on cell growth and cell division . It has been a reliable drug for around 85 years and is now often prescribed in the field of organ transplantation .

What is mycophenolic acid?

Mycophenolic acid, also known by its Latin name Acidum mycophenolicum , was first prepared in isolation in 1893 by the Italian physician and microbiologist Bartolomeo Gosio. During his scientific research, Gosio observed that mycophenolic acid significantly reduced the growth of anthrax pathogens.

Only after Alexander Flemming researched the antibiotic effect of penicillin in 1928 and presented it in 1929 and released it for medical use was the range of medical care with antibiotics expanded. This is how a co-discoverer of penicillin came across the research results of Bertolomeo Gosio. He completed the observations and mode of action of the selective, non-competitive and reversible inhibition of mycophenolic acid.

The drug is a white crystalline powder, also known by the molecular formula C17H20O6 . It is almost insoluble in cold water, slightly soluble in toluene, and moderately soluble in diethyl ether and chloroform. The white powder is only easily soluble with the addition of ethanol.

Pharmacological action

Today, mycophenolic acid is used as an immunosuppressant for prophylactic treatment and in aggressive diseases. The pharmacological target is based on the selective, non-competitive and reversible inhibition of an enzyme important for the biosynthesis of guanosine . The enzyme is known by the name of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase.

By inhibiting the enzyme, proliferation of B and T lymphocytes and DNA synthesis is blocked. While these cells are blocked, the other cells can look for another biosynthetic pathway. The difference between mycophenolic acid and other immunosuppressants is that it does not bind directly to the DNA.

Medical Application & Use

The medical treatment by mycophenolic acid comes in the form of tablets. As an indication, the focus is on prophylactic treatment in organ transplants, in combination with another immunosuppressant to prevent rejection symptoms.

Furthermore, the medication can be prescribed if there is a severe rheumatic disease affecting the internal organs . If the organs are not yet affected, the drug can be taken prophylactically to prevent this.

Therapy with this immunosuppressant should only be carried out by physicians with experience in the field of organ transplantation. The dosage is individually tailored to each patient, mostly based on adults around 720mg, twice a day. The creeping in of mycophenolic acid should be fully documented by regular laboratory blood tests in order to avoid an overdose.

The drug should not be taken during pregnancy and lactation . If allergies to the individual components of mycophenolic acid are known, you should also avoid taking them and, if necessary, an alternative to this drug should be prescribed. Whether the treatment with mycophenolic acid is successful can usually only be seen 3 months after starting to take it.

Patients often notice an alleviation of the symptoms after a treatment period of 4-8 weeks. The effect is reflected in the reduction in pain and less water retention in the tissue. The inflammation values ​​in the blood count improve, morning stiffness and fatigue decrease, and resilience increases. In order to bring about continuous improvement, it is necessary to take the drug for a long time. It must be taken regularly, even if the patient’s general condition has improved.

Risks & side effects

As with any pharmaceutical treatment, undesirable side effects can occur. Basically, it should always be considered that immunosuppressants weaken the immune system . The body cannot provide a strong defense, which increases the general risk of infection. The infections can occur in the form of bacteria , viruses or fungi .

Other side effects of mycophenolic acid often include gastrointestinal complaints ( nausea , vomiting , stomach pain ), flu infections , changes in the blood picture, respiratory tract infection ( bronchitis ) and kidney and liver dysfunction . Tachycardia (increased pulse rate), tremors , hair loss or the formation of malignant or benign tumors are rare .

No vaccinations should be given while taking the immunosuppressant . UV radiation should also be avoided, as it can cause skin irritation. The doctor should carry out regular checks of the laboratory values ​​as well as the skin and mucous membranes while taking mycophenolic acid .

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.