After a kidney, heart, or liver transplant, mycophenolate may be given to help prevent the body from attacking and rejecting the new organ. This prescription medicine works by blocking certain enzymes in the body, making the immune system less active. There are also "off-label," or unapproved, uses for mycophenolate, such as treating myasthenia gravis, kidney disease, and atopic dermatitis.
Mycophenolate mofetil is approved to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a kidney, liver, or heart transplant. Mycophenolate sodium is only approved to prevent organ rejection in people who have received a kidney transplant. Mycophenolate is always used in combination with other medicines: cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®) and a corticosteroid, or steroid, medicine, such as prednisone.
Mycophenolate mofetil is converted into mycophenolate sodium by the body. Because the body handles them differently, these two forms of mycophenolate are not interchangeable. Therefore, if you need to switch from one brand or type to another, only do so under the supervision of your healthcare provider. If you happen to receive a mycophenolate product that looks unfamiliar to you, check with your pharmacist to make sure you have received the correct one.
How Does It Work?
Mycophenolate works by blocking the action of an enzyme in the body known as inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase (IMPDH). This enzyme is needed for certain immune system cells to multiply, specifically, T- and B-lymphocytes.
Transplant rejection occurs when the immune system, which is responsible for fighting infections, sees the transplanted organ as foreign and attacks it. By preventing T- and B-lymphocytes from multiplying, mycophenolate decreases the activity of the immune system and decreases the chance that transplant rejection will occur.
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