Applications of tacrolimus for the treatment of skin disorders.


Assmann T, Homey B, Ruzicka T






During the last decades, systemic and topical glucocorticosteroids assumed a dominant role in immunosuppressive therapy in dermatology. However, their administration is limited because of numerous adverse effects. Consequently, there is a large need for alternative non- steroidal anti-inflammatory therapeutics with a superior risk/benefit ratio. In recent years, a new class of anti-inflammatories, the macrolide lactones, has attracted special interest.During the last decade, a member of this class, tacrolimus, proved to be a powerful suppressor of the immune system. Introduced into clinical practice to prevent allograft rejection, it is now routinely used in organ transplantation. Recently, several placebo-controlled multicenter studies showed the therapeutic efficiency of systemic and topical tacrolimus in common inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic eczema.Short-term tacrolimus ointment therapy disclosed significant efficacy vs. placebo and a safety profile with only few local side effects in patients with atopic eczema. Further clinical trials including greater extent of exposure (experienced by children), and comparison between tacrolimus ointment and glucocorticosteroids are being conducted and the results will show whether this drug opens a new era in the treatment of inflammatory skin disorders. The aim of this review is to summarize the current knowledge regarding the pharmacokinetic properties, adverse effects and therapeutic indications of tacrolimus in dermatology.