Tacrolimus and blepharitis

July 11, 2008

Tacrolimus is an immunosuppressive drug that, in its oral form, is commonly used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients. In its topical form, it is used to treat atopic dermatitis. It interferes with the ability of certain white blood cells, called T-helper lymphocytes, to become activated — an important step in immune system function. This makes it particularly useful for helping suppress inflammation.

Severe blepharitis is often treated with topical corticosteroids to suppress the inflammation, but they provide limited benefit that decreases over time. A study at Heinrich Heine University in Dusseldorf, Germany, including 14 patients with severe blepharitis. Tacrolimus ointment was applied to their eyelids twice daily, and the eyelids were examined regularly over the course of five months to assess redness, swelling, scaling, oozing, crusting, and any abrasion due to scratching. Skin, eyelid and itching scores all dropped markedly, although the researchers concluded that long-term efficacy and safety still had to be evaluated in follow-up studies.

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