ATC Group: L04A Immunosuppressants

Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System



Hierarchical Position



Active Ingredients

Chemical substance

Abatacept is a fusion protein that consists of the extracellular domain of human cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) linked to a modified Fc portion of human immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1). Abatacept selectively modulates a key costimulatory signal required for full activation of T lymphocytes expressing CD28.

Adalimumab binds specifically to TNF and neutralizes the biological function of TNF by blocking its interaction with the p55 and p75 cell surface TNF receptors. Adalimumab also modulates biological responses that are induced or regulated by TNF, including changes in the levels of adhesion molecules responsible for leukocyte migration (ELAM-1, VCAM-1, and ICAM-1 with an IC50 of 0.1-0.2 nM).

Afelimomab is an anti-TNFα monoclonal antibody. Administration of afelimomab reduces the concentration of interleukin-6 in patients with sepsis, but reduces mortality only marginally.

Alefacept interferes with lymphocyte activation by specifically binding to the lymphocyte antigen, CD2, and inhibiting LFA-3/CD2 interaction. Activation of T lymphocytes involving the interaction between LFA-3 on antigen-presenting cells and CD2 on T lymphocytes plays a role in the pathophysiology of chronic plaque psoriasis. Also causes a reduction in subsets of CD2+ T lymphocytes as well as CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes.

Alemtuzumab is a genetically engineered humanised IgG1 kappa monoclonal antibody specific for a 21-28 kD lymphocyte cell surface glycoprotein (CD52) expressed primarily on the surface of normal and malignant peripheral blood B and T cell lymphocytes. Alemtuzumab acts through antibody-dependent cellular cytolysis and complement-mediated lysis following cell surface binding to CD52, a cell surface antigen present at high levels on T (CD3+) and B (CD19+) lymphocytes, and at lower levels on natural killer cells, monocytes, and macrophages.

Anakinra neutralises the biologic activity of interleukin-1α (IL-1α) and interleukin-1β (IL-1β) by competitively inhibiting their binding to interleukin-1 type I receptor (IL-1RI).

Antithymocyte immunoglobulin is a selective immunosuppressive agent mostly acting on T lymphocytes. Antithymocyte immunoglobulin is used for the prevention and treatment of graft rejection after solid organ transplantation, usually in combination with other immunosuppressive drugs.

Apremilast, an oral small-molecule inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), works intracellularly to modulate a network of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators. PDE4 is a cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-specific PDE and the dominant PDE in inflammatory cells.

Azathioprine is a pro-drug of 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP). 6-MP is inactive but acts as a purine antagonist and requires cellular uptake and intracellular anabolism to thioguanine nucleotides (TGNs) for immunosuppression. The TGNs and other metabolites (e.g. 6-methyl-mecaptopurine ribonucleotides) inhibit de novo purine synthesis and purine nucleotide interconversions.

Baricitinib is a selective and reversible inhibitor of Janus kinase (JAK)1 and JAK2. In isolated enzyme assays, baricitinib inhibited the activities of JAK1, JAK2, Tyrosine Kinase 2 and JAK3 with IC50 values of 5.9, 5.7, 53 and >400 nM, respectively. Janus kinases (JAKs) are enzymes that transduce intracellular signals from cell surface receptors for a number of cytokines and growth factors involved in haematopoiesis, inflammation and immune function.

Basiliximab is a murine/human chimeric monoclonal antibody (IgG1κ) that is directed against the interleukin-2 receptor α-chain (CD25 antigen), which is expressed on the surface of T-lymphocytes in response to antigenic challenge. Basiliximab specifically binds with high affinity (KD-value 0.1 nM) to the CD25 antigen on activated T-lymphocytes expressing the high affinity interleukin-2 receptor (IL-2R) and thereby prevents binding of interleukin-2, a critical signal for T-cell proliferation in the cellular immune response involved in allograft rejection.

Belatacept, a modified form of CTLA4-Ig, binds CD80 and CD86 more avidly than the parent CTLA4-Ig molecule from which it is derived. This increased avidity provides a level of immunosuppression that is necessary for preventing immune-mediated allograft failure and dysfunction. Belatacept blocks CD28 mediated co-stimulation of T cells inhibiting their activation.

Belimumab is a human IgG1λ monoclonal antibody specific for soluble human B Lymphocyte Stimulator protein (BLyS, also referred to as BAFF and TNFSF13B). Belimumab blocks the binding of soluble BLyS, a B cell survival factor, to its receptors on B cells. Belimumab by binding BLyS inhibits the survival of B cells, including autoreactive B cells, and reduces the differentiation of B cells into immunoglobulin-producing plasma cells.

Brodalumab is a recombinant fully human monoclonal immunoglobulin IgG2 antibody that binds with high affinity to human IL-17RA and blocks the biological activities of the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-17A/F heterodimer and IL-25, resulting in inhibition of the inflammation and clinical symptoms associated with psoriasis.

Canakinumab is a human monoclonal anti-human interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) antibody of the IgG1/κ isotype. Canakinumab binds with high affinity specifically to human IL-1 beta and neutralises the biological activity of human IL-1 beta by blocking its interaction with IL-1 receptors, thereby preventing IL-1 beta-induced gene activation and the production of inflammatory mediators.

Certolizumab pegol has a high affinity for human TNFα and binds with a dissociation constant (KD) of 90 pM. TNFα is a key pro-inflammatory cytokine with a central role in inflammatory processes. Certolizumab pegol was shown to neutralise membrane associated and soluble human TNFα in a dose-dependent manner. By inhibiting the action of TNFα, certolizumab pegol reduces inflammation and other symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Ciclosporin (also known as ciclosporin A) is a cyclic polypeptide immunomodulator with immunosuppressant properties. It has been shown to prolong survival of allogeneic transplants in animals and significantly improved graft survival in all types of solid organ transplantation in man. Ciclosporin has also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Cladribine is a nucleoside analogue of deoxyadenosine. In resting cells cladribine causes DNA single-strand breaks, rapid nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide consumption, ATP depletion and cell death.

Daclizumab beta is a humanised IgG1 monoclonal antibody that binds to CD25 (IL-2Rα), and prevents IL-2 binding to CD25, resulting in higher levels of IL-2 available for signalling through the intermediate-affinity IL-2 receptor. Key effects of this IL-2 pathway modulation potentially related to the therapeutic effects of daclizumab beta in MS include selective antagonism of activated T-cell responses, and expansion of immunoregulatory CD56bright natural killer (NK) cells, which have been shown to selectively decrease activated T-cells.

The anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating effects of dimethyl fumarate and its metabolite monomethyl fumarate are not fully elucidated but are thought to be mainly due to the interaction with the intracellular reduced glutathione of cells directly involved in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. Their main activity is considered to be immunomodulatory, resulting in a shift in T helper cells (Th) from the Th1 and Th17 profile to a Th2 phenotype.

Eculizumab is a monoclonal antibody, a terminal complement inhibitor that specifically binds to the complement protein C5 with high affinity, thereby inhibiting its cleavage to C5a and C5b and preventing the generation of the terminal complement complex C5b-9. Eculizumab preserves the early components of complement activation that are essential for opsonization of microorganisms and clearance of immune complexes.

Efalizumab is a recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to the CD11a subunit of LFA-1 (lymphocyte function-associated antigen-1), a leukocyte cell surface protein. By this mechanism, efalizumab inhibits the binding of LFA-1 to ICAM-1, which interferes with T lymphocytes adhesion to other cell types. LFA-1 is present on activated T lymphocytes, and ICAM-1 is up-regulated on endothelial cells and keratinocytes in psoriasis plaques. By preventing LFA-1/ICAM binding, efalizumab may alleviate signs and symptoms of psoriasis by inhibiting several stages in the immunologic cascade.

Etanercept is a competitive inhibitor of TNF binding to its cell surface receptors, and thereby inhibits the biological activity of TNF. The mechanism of action of etanercept is thought to be its competitive inhibition of TNF binding to cell surface TNFR, preventing TNF-mediated cellular responses by rendering TNF biologically inactive.

Everolimus is a selective mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) inhibitor. mTOR is a key serine-threonine kinase, the activity of which is known to be upregulated in a number of human cancers.

Fingolimod is a sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor modulator. Fingolimod is metabolised by sphingosine kinase to the active metabolite fingolimod phosphate. By acting as a functional antagonist of S1P receptors on lymphocytes, fingolimod phosphate blocks the capacity of lymphocytes to egress from lymph nodes, causing a redistribution, rather than depletion, of lymphocytes.

Golimumab is a human monoclonal antibody that forms high affinity, stable complexes with both the soluble and transmembrane bioactive forms of human TNF-α, which prevents the binding of TNF-α to its receptors.

Guselkumab is a human IgG1λ monoclonal antibody (mAb) that binds selectively to the interleukin 23 (IL-23) protein with high specificity and affinity. IL-23, a regulatory cytokine, affects the differentiation, expansion, and survival of T cell subsets, (e.g., Th17 cells and Tc17 cells) and innate immune cell subsets, which represent sources of effector cytokines, including IL-17A, IL-17F and IL-22 that drive inflammatory disease. In humans, selective blockade of IL-23 was shown to normalize production of these cytokines.

Infliximab is a chimeric human-murine monoclonal antibody that binds with high affinity to both soluble and transmembrane forms of TNFα but not to lymphotoxin α (TNFβ).

Ixekizumab is an IgG4 monoclonal antibody that binds with high affinity (<3 pM) and specificity to interleukin 17A (both IL-17A and IL-17A/F). Elevated concentrations of IL-17A have been implicated in the pathogenesis of psoriasis by promoting keratinocyte proliferation and activation, as well as in the pathogenesis of psoriatic arthritis. Neutralisation of IL-17A by ixekizumab inhibits these actions.

Leflunomide is a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic agent with antiproliferative properties. A771726, the active metabolite of leflunomide, inhibits the human enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHODH) and exhibits antiproliferative activity.

The lenalidomide mechanism of action includes anti-neoplastic, anti-angiogenic, pro-erythropoietic, and immunomodulatory properties.

Mepolizumab is a humanised monoclonal antibody (IgG1, kappa), which targets human interleukin-5 (IL-5) with high affinity and specificity. IL-5 is the major cytokine responsible for the growth and differentiation, recruitment, activation and survival of eosinophils. Mepolizumab is indicated as an add-on treatment for severe refractory eosinophilic asthma.

Methotrexate (4-amino-10-methylfolic acid) is a folic acid antagonist which inhibits the reduction of folic acid and increase of tissue cells. Methotrexate enters the cell through an active transport mechanism of reduced folates. As a result of polyglutamation of methotrexate caused by the folylpolyglutamylate enzyme, the duration of the cytotoxic effect of the drug substance in the cell increases.

Mycophenolate mofetil is the 2-morpholinoethyl ester of MPA. MPA is a potent, selective, uncompetitive and reversible inhibitor of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase, and therefore inhibits the de novo pathway of guanosine nucleotide synthesis without incorporation into DNA.

Mycophenolic acid is a potent, selective, uncompetitive and reversible inhibitor of inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase, and therefore inhibits the de novo pathway of guanosine nucleotide synthesis without incorporation into DNA. Mycophenolic acid has more potent cytostatic effects on lymphocytes than on other cells and is indicated in combination with ciclosporin and corticosteroids for the prophylaxis of acute transplant rejection in adult patients receiving allogeneic renal transplants.

Natalizumab is a selective adhesion-molecule inhibitor and binds to the α4-subunit of human integrins, which is highly expressed on the surface of all leukocytes, with the exception of neutrophils.

Ocrelizumab is a recombinant humanised monoclonal antibody that selectively targets CD20-expressing B cells. The precise mechanisms through which ocrelizumab exerts its therapeutic clinical effects in MS is presumed to involve immunomodulation through the reduction in the number and function of CD20-expressing B cells. Following cell surface binding, ocrelizumab selectively depletes CD20-expressing B cells through antibody-dependent cellular phagocytosis (ADCP), antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC), and apoptosis. The capacity of B-cell reconstitution and preexisting humoral immunity are preserved.

Pirfenidone attenuates fibroblast proliferation, production of fibrosis-associated proteins and cytokines, and the increased biosynthesis and accumulation of extracellular matrix in response to cytokine growth factors. Pirfenidone is indicated in adults for the treatment of mild to moderate idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

Pomalidomide has direct anti-myeloma tumoricidal activity, immunomodulatory activities and inhibits stromal cell support for multiple myeloma tumour cell growth. Pomalidomide in combination with bortezomib and dexamethasone is indicated in the treatment of adult patients with multiple myeloma.

Risankizumab is a humanised immunoglobulin G1 (IgG1) monoclonal antibody that selectively binds with high affinity to the p19 subunit of human interleukin 23 (IL-23) cytokine and inhibits IL-23-dependent cell signalling and release of proinflammatory cytokines. Risankizumab is indicated for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Sarilumab is a human monoclonal antibody (IgG1 subtype) that specifically binds to both soluble and membrane-bound IL-6 receptors (IL-6Rα), and inhibits IL-6-mediated signalling which involves ubiquitous signal-transducing glycoprotein 130 (gp130) and the Signal Transducer and Activator of Transcription-3 (STAT-3). In functional human cell-based assays, sarilumab was able to block the IL-6 signalling pathway, measured as STAT-3 inhibition, only in the presence of IL-6.

Secukinumab is a fully human IgG1/κ monoclonal antibody that selectively binds to and neutralises the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-17A (IL-17A). Treatment with secukinumab reduces erythema, induration and desquamation present in plaque psoriasis lesions.

Siltuximab is a monoclonal antibody that forms high affinity, stable complexes with soluble bioactive forms of human IL-6. Siltuximab prevents the binding of human IL-6 to both soluble and membrane-bound IL-6 receptors (IL-6R), thus inhibiting the formation of the hexameric signaling complex with gp130 on the cell surface.

Sirolimus inhibits T-cell activation induced by most stimuli, by blocking calcium-dependent and calcium-independent intracellular signal transduction. Studies demonstrated that its effects are mediated by a mechanism that is different from that of ciclosporin, tacrolimus, and other immunosuppressive agents.

Tacrolimus is a highly potent immunosuppressive agent. In particular, tacrolimus inhibits the formation of cytotoxic lymphocytes, which are mainly responsible for graft rejection. Tacrolimus suppresses T-cell activation and T-helper-cell dependent B-cell proliferation, as well as the formation of lymphokines (such as interleukins-2, -3, and γ-interferon) and the expression of the interleukin-2 receptor.

Teriflunomide is an immunomodulatory agent with anti-inflammatory properties that selectively and reversibly inhibits the mitochondrial enzyme dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (DHO-DH), required for the de novo pyrimidine synthesis. As a consequence teriflunomide reduces the proliferation of dividing cells that need de novo synthesis of pyrimidine to expand. The exact mechanism by which teriflunomide exerts its therapeutic effect in MS is not fully understood, but this is mediated by a reduced number of lymphocytes.

Thalidomide shows immunomodulatory, anti-inflammatory and potential anti-neoplastic activities. Thalidomide is also a non-barbiturate centrally active hypnotic sedative. It has no antibacterial effects.

Tildrakizumab is a humanized IgG1/k monoclonal antibody that specifically binds to the p19 protein subunit of the interleukin-23 (IL-23) cytokine without binding to IL-12 and inhibits its interaction with the IL-23 receptor. Tildrakizumab inhibits the release of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines.

Tocilizumab binds specifically to both soluble and membrane-bound IL-6 receptors (sIL-6R and mIL-6R). IL-6 is involved in diverse physiological processes such as T-cell activation, induction of immunoglobulin secretion, induction of hepatic acute phase protein synthesis and stimulation of haemopoiesis. IL-6 has been implicated in the pathogenesis of diseases including inflammatory diseases, osteoporosis and neoplasia.

Tofacitinib is a potent, selective inhibitor of the JAK family. In human cells, tofacitinib preferentially inhibits signalling by heterodimeric cytokine receptors that associate with JAK3 and/or JAK1. Inhibition of JAK1 and JAK3 by tofacitinib attenuates signalling of interleukins and type I and type II interferons, which will result in modulation of the immune and inflammatory response.

Ustekinumab is a fully human IgG1κ monoclonal antibody that binds with specificity to the shared p40 protein subunit of human cytokines interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23. Ustekinumab inhibits the bioactivity of human IL-12 and IL-23 by preventing p40 from binding to the IL-12R1 receptor protein expressed on the surface of immune cells. Abnormal regulation of IL 12 and IL 23 has been associated with immune mediated diseases, such as psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and Crohn’s disease.

Vedolizumab is a gut-selective immunosuppressive biologic. It is a humanised monoclonal antibody that binds specifically to the α4β7 integrin, which is preferentially expressed on gut homing T helper lymphocytes. By binding to α4β7 on certain lymphocytes, vedolizumab inhibits adhesion of these cells to mucosal addressin cell adhesion molecule-1 (MAdCAM-1), but not to vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1).