Kidneys Home > Prograf and Nephrotic Syndrome

Although Prograf is not approved to treat nephrotic syndrome, it is sometimes prescribed for this "off-label" use. This condition occurs due to kidney damage and can result in several symptoms, such as high levels of protein in the urine, high cholesterol levels, and swelling. Studies have shown that Prograf can help relieve symptoms of these conditions in both adults and children.

An Overview of Nephrotic Syndrome and Prograf

Nephrotic syndrome is a medical term used to describe a group of symptoms that can occur in some people with kidney disease. It is not a disease itself, but instead occurs as a result of kidney damage due to various conditions.
Prograf® (tacrolimus) is sometimes used in the treatment of this condition. Because it can cause potentially serious side effects, Prograf is normally reserved for people who have failed other treatments, such as corticosteroids.

More Information About Nephrotic Syndrome

Nephrotic syndrome occurs when the glomeruli (tiny structures in the kidneys that filter waste products from the blood) become damaged. This damage allows large amounts of proteins to leak from the blood into the urine, resulting in abnormally high levels of protein in the urine. Other symptoms of nephrotic syndrome include:
  • Low levels of protein in the blood
  • Swelling (edema), especially of the face, hands, feet, and ankles
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Foamy urine (caused by the excess protein).
Nephrotic syndrome may be caused by a number of conditions that damage the kidneys. Possible causes include but are not limited to:
  • Minimal change disease (the most common cause of nephrotic syndrome in children)
  • Membranous nephropathy (a kidney disorder characterized by thickening of the structures of the kidneys)
  • Diabetes
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • Hepatitis B or hepatitis C infection
  • Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
In some cases, the underlying cause may never be found.
Treatment for nephrotic syndrome is aimed at treating the underlying cause, if known, and controlling the symptoms of the condition. For example, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs) may be used to keep blood pressure low and to reduce the amount of protein lost in the urine. Medications, such as statins, may be used to reduce cholesterol. Corticosteroids and other medications that suppress the immune system may be used to reduce inflammation of the kidneys.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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