Imuran does this by interfering with the production of the cells genetic material, DNA, which stops the cells from dividing and multiplying.
Imuran is prescribed to dampen down the activity of cells in the immune system.
Imuran recognises and attacks transplanted tissue and cells that have become cancerous.
Imuran tablets and injection contain the active ingredient azathioprine, which is a type of drug called an immunosuppressant.
Imuran tablets are available without a brand name, ie as the generic drug.
Imuran works by decreasing the production of these white blood cells.
Azathioprine is often prescribed in combination with other immunosuppressants such as corticosteroids. When combined with corticosteroids it can often allow a reduced dose of corticosteroid to be used.
For this reason, your doctor will monitor the levels of all your blood cells.
However, it can take weeks to months of treatment for the full effect of the drug to become apparant.
Reduced production of red blood cells can cause anaemia and reduced production of platelets can cause problems with blood clotting.
Sometimes however, the immune system can react excessively, or mount an attack against normal healthy tissues. This can result in various disorders known as autoimmune diseases. For example, in rheumatoid arthritis the immune system attacks the joints, causing pain and inflammation. In systemic lupus erythematosus the immune system attacks the skin and internal organs. The activity of the immune system can be a problem following organ transplants, because it recognises the transplanted tissue as foreign and attacks it, causing the organ to be rejected. In situations such as these it is useful to suppress the activity of the immune system.
The decrease in the numbers of white blood cells reduces the ability of the immune system to reject organ transplants. In autoimmune diseases it reduces the immune system attack on normal tissues and so reduces the severity of the symptoms, and in many cases halts the progress of the disease.
The immune system normally recognises and protects the body from foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses.
The immune system relies on different types of white blood cells that are produced in the bone marrow and lymph glands.
Unfortunately white blood cells are needed to fight invading micro-organisms, so during treatment the body becomes more susceptible to infections. Azathioprine interferes with the growth and division of other types of blood cells in the bone marrow.
Imuran is prescribed for:
- Severe inflammatory disease of the joints caused by abnormal attack on the joints by the immune system;
- Preventing the body from rejecting transplanted organs, eg heart, liver, kidney transplants;
- Long-term inflammation of skin and internal organs due to abnormal attack of the body tissues by the immune system;
- Inflammatory disease of the skin and muscles;
- Inflammatory disease of the muscles;
- Inflammation of the walls of arteries;
- Blistering skin disorder caused by abnormal attack of the skin cells by the body's immune system;
- Abnormal destruction of red blood cells by the body's immune system;
- Abnormal destruction of liver cells by the body's immune system;
- Abnormal destruction of blood platelets by the body's immune system;
Imuran side effects that you should report to your health care professional or doctor as soon as possible:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes;
- Loss of hair;
- Inflammation of the pancreas;
- Inflammation of the lungs due to chest infection;
- Increased susceptibility to infections;
- Decreased white blood cell count;
- Decreased production of blood cells by the bone marrow;
- Decreased platelet count;
- Damage to the liver;
- Allergic reaction;