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Supportive Care

Brand names:

Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®

Other names:

Cyclosporine A

Often used for:

Graft vs. host disease (GVHD) after stem cell transplantation; Aplastic anemia; Rheumatoid arthritis, Psoriasis

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About Cyclosporine

Cyclosporine is a medicine that suppresses the immune system (immunosuppressant). It is used to decrease the body’s natural immune system and prevent or treat GVHD in hematopoietic cell transplant.

Patients will have regular blood draws to check the amount of cyclosporine, potassium, and magnesium levels in the blood and to monitor kidney and liver function. Cyclosporine doses may change based on levels in the blood.

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May be taken as a capsule by mouth

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May be taken as a liquid by mouth

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

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Possible Side Effects

  • Increased risk of infection
  • Increased hair on body and face
  • Numbness or tingling in hands and feet
  • Low blood magnesium levels
  • High blood potassium levels
  • Kidney problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Acne
  • Dizziness
  • Flushing
  • Puffy gums or cheeks
  • Abdominal pain
  • Tremors (shaking of the body)
  • Seizures
  • Low blood magnesium levels
  • High blood sugar levels (diabetes)
  • Liver problems

Not all patients who take cyclosporine will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Possible Late Effects

Some patients may experience long-term or late effects of treatment that may continue or develop months or years after treatment ends. Possible late effects due to cyclosporine include:

  • Secondary cancers (such as lymphoma or skin cancer)
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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • The staff will let patients know when tests will be performed to measure cyclosporine levels in the blood. On that day, patients should not take the medicine until after the blood sample is obtained.
  • While taking cyclosporine, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. Patients should follow the care team’s instructions for appropriate fluid intake.
  • While taking this medicine, patients should not eat grapefruit or Seville (bitter) oranges. Patients also should not drink juice or beverages containing grapefruit or Seville orange.
  • Sexually active patients should take steps to prevent pregnancy during treatment and for 6 months after completion of therapy. 
  • Do not switch brands unless you doctor tells you to do so.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Tell your doctor if you start taking any new medicine while taking cyclosporine because this may change the blood level of cyclosporine and possibly increase the side effects or decrease its efficacy.

Cyclosporine at home:

  • Cyclosporine can be taken with or without food. Take with food if stomach upset occurs.
  • It is important to take this medicine the same way every day. Taking the medicine at the same time each day and at the same time in relation to meals will help keep a constant amount of cyclosporine in the body.
  • Swallow capsules whole. Do not cut, crush, or chew capsules.
  • Shake liquid cyclosporine well before use. Use the measuring device that comes with the medicine.
  • To improve the taste of liquid cyclosporine, mix with orange juice or apple juice (at room temperature) in a glass container and stir well. Take the medicine right away. Then add a little juice to the glass, swish it around, and drink. Some forms may also be taken with milk. Never take cyclosporine with grapefruit juice.
  • If vomiting occurs within 30 minutes of taking cyclosporine by mouth, another dose should be given.
  • Give a missed dose as soon as possible. If it is near the time of the next dose (within 4 hours), skip the dose. Do not give 2 doses at the same time.
  • Store cyclosporine at room temperature.
  • Do not use the medicine past the expiration date.
  • Follow instructions for safe handling, storage, and disposal.

Cyclosporine resources