Mycophenolic acid

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Mycophenolic acid
Mycophenolic acid ball-and-stick.png
Systematic (IUPAC) name
(4E)-6-(4-Hydroxy-6-methoxy-7-methyl-3-oxo-1,3-dihydro-2-benzofuran-5-yl)-4-methylhex-4-enoic acid
Clinical data
Trade names CellCept, Myfortic
AHFS/ Multum Consumer Information
MedlinePlus a601081
Licence data EMA:Link, US FDA:link
  • AU: D
  • US: D (Evidence of risk)
Legal status
Routes of
Oral, intravenous
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability 72% (sodium),
94% (mofetil)[1]
Protein binding 82–97%[1]
Metabolism Hepatic[1]
Biological half-life 17.9±6.5 hours[1]
Excretion Urine (93%),
faeces (6%)[1]
CAS Registry Number 24280-93-1 YesY
ATC code L04AA06
PubChem CID: 446541
DrugBank DB01024 YesY
ChemSpider 393865 YesY
KEGG D05096 YesY
ChEBI CHEBI:168396 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C17H20O6
Molecular mass 320.34 g/mol
 N (what is this?)  (verify)
Mycophenolate mofetil
Mycophenolate mofetil2DACS.svg
Mycophenolate mofetil ball-and-stick.png
Systematic (IUPAC) name
2-Morpholin-4-ylethyl (E)-6-(4-hydroxy-6-methoxy-7-methyl-3-oxo-1H-2-benzofuran-5-yl)-4-methylhex-4-enoate
Clinical data
Trade names CellCept
AHFS/ monograph
Licence data EMA:Link, US FDA:link
Legal status
  • as above
CAS Registry Number 128794-94-5 YesY
ATC code L04AA06
PubChem CID: 5281078
DrugBank DB00688 YesY
ChemSpider 4444535 YesY
KEGG C07908 YesY
Chemical data
Formula C23H31NO7
Molecular mass 433.49474 g/mol
 N (what is this?)  (verify)

Mycophenolic acid (INN, BAN and USAN) /ˌmkfɨˈnɒlɪk/ (less accurately called mycophenolate) is an immunosuppressant drug used to prevent rejection in organ transplantation. It inhibits an enzyme needed for the growth of T cells and B cells. It was initially marketed as the prodrug mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) to improve oral bioavailability. More recently, the salt mycophenolate sodium has also been introduced. Mycophenolate mofetil is commonly marketed under the trade name CellCept (Roche), and mycophenolate sodium as Myfortic (Novartis).

Clinical use[edit]


Mycophenolate is used for the prevention of organ transplant rejection. Mycophenolate mofetil is indicated for the prevention of organ transplant rejection in adults and renal transplant rejection in children over 2 years; whereas mycophenolate sodium is indicated for the prevention of renal transplant rejection in adults. Mycophenolate sodium has also been used for the prevention of rejection in liver, heart, and/or lung transplants in children older than two years.[2]

An immunosuppressant that has drastically decreased the incidence of acute rejection in solid transplant recipients, mycophenolate is increasingly utilized as a steroid sparing treatment in autoimmune diseases and similar immune-mediated disorders including Behçet's disease, pemphigus vulgaris, refractory incomplete systemic lupus erythematosus,[3] immunoglobulin A nephropathy, small vessel vasculitides, and psoriasis.[4]

Its increasing application in treating lupus nephritis has demonstrated more frequent complete response and less frequent complications[4] compared to cyclophosphamide bolus therapy, a regimen with risk of bone marrow suppression, infertility, and malignancy.[5] Further work addressing maintenance therapy demonstrated mycophenolate superior to cyclophosphamide, again in terms of response and side-effects.[5] Walsh et al. even propose that mycophenolate should be considered as a first-line induction therapy for treatment of lupus nephritis in patients without renal dysfunction,[6] suggesting that mycophenolate will be encountered more frequently in medical practice.

Comparison to other agents[edit]

Compared with azathioprine it has significantly higher incidence of diarrhea, and no difference in risk of any of the other side effects.[7] Mycophenolic acid is 15 times more expensive than azathioprine.[8] The exact role of mycophenolate vs azathioprine has yet to be conclusively established. In long-term immunosuppression, it may be used to avoid calcineurin inhibitors or steroids.

Potential future uses[edit]

Mycophenolate mofetil is beginning to be used in the management of auto-immune disorders such as idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), scleroderma (systemic sclerosis or SSc), and pemphigus vulgaris (PV) with success for some patients.[9]

It is also currently being used as a long-term therapy for maintaining remission of granulomatosis with polyangiitis, though thus far, studies have found it inferior to azathioprine.[citation needed] A combination of mycophenolate and ribavirin has been found to stop infection by and replication of dengue virus in vitro.[10][11]

Takayasu arteritis, ANCA associated vasculitides and all medium vessel vasculitic conditions do respond to it. However, due to its slow onset of action, initial aggressive disease may be managed with high dose steroids and other immunosuppressants. Maintenance of remission is much better with mycophenolate, especially due to lower infection rate with this agent. After persistent remission, dose can be reduced to 1000 mg per day, but not lower as relapses more common in doses lower than this.[citation needed]

Adverse effects[edit]

Common adverse drug reactions (≥1% of patients) associated with mycophenolate therapy include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, joint pain; infections, leukopenia, and/or anemia reflect the immunosuppressive and myelosuppressive nature of the drug. Mycophenolate sodium is also commonly associated with fatigue, headache, cough and/or breathing issues. Intravenous (IV) administration of mycophenolate mofetil is also commonly associated with thrombophlebitis and thrombosis. Infrequent adverse effects (0.1–1% of patients) include esophagitis, gastritis, gastrointestinal tract hemorrhage, and/or invasive cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.[2] More rarely, pulmonary fibrosis or various neoplasia occur: melanoma, lymphoma, other malignancies having an occurrences of 1 in 20 to 1 in 200, depending on the type, with neoplasia in the skin being the most common site.[12][13] Several cases of pure red cell aplasia (PRCA) have also been reported.[14]

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an alert that patients on mycophenolate mofetil and mycophenolic acid are at increased risk of opportunistic infections, such as activation of latent viral infections, including shingles, other herpes infections, cytomegalovirus, and BK virus associated nephropathy. In addition the FDA is investigating 16 patients that developed a rare neurological disease while taking the drug. This is a viral infection known as progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy; it attacks the brain and is usually fatal.[15]

Mycophenolic acid is associated with miscarriage and congenital malformations when used during pregnancy, and should be avoided whenever possible by women trying to conceive.[16][17]

GI intolerance in about 10% of patients taking mycophenolate mofetil can be overcome largely by replacing it with mycophenolate sodium or azathioprine.[citation needed]

Blood tests[edit]

Among the most common effects of this drug is increased blood cholesterol levels. Other changes in blood chemistry such as hypomagnesemia, hypocalcemia, hyperkalemia, and an increase in BUN are regularly noted.


Mycophenolate is derived from the fungus Penicillium stoloniferum or in P. echinulatum.[18] Mycophenolate mofetil is metabolised in the liver to the active moiety mycophenolic acid. It reversibly inhibits inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase,[19] the enzyme that controls the rate of synthesis of guanine monophosphate in the de novo pathway of purine synthesis used in the proliferation of B and T lymphocytes.[20] Other cells are able to recover purines via a separate salvage pathway and are thus able to escape the effect.

Mycophenolate is potent and can, in many contexts, be used in place of the older anti-proliferative azathioprine. It is usually used as part of a three-compound regimen of immunosuppressants, also including a calcineurin inhibitor (ciclosporin or tacrolimus) and prednisolone.


Mycophenolate mofetil is the morpholino‌ethyl ester of mycophenolic acid; the ester masks the carboxyl group. Mycophenolate mofetil is reported to have a pKa values of 5.6 for the morpholino moiety and 8.5 for the phenolic group.[21]


  1. ^ a b c d e "CellCept®" (PDF). TGA eBusiness Services. Roche Products Pty Limited. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Rossi S, editor. Australian Medicines Handbook 2006. Adelaide: Australian Medicines Handbook; 2006. ISBN 0-9757919-2-3[page needed]
  3. ^ Boehm I et al. Chilblain lupus erythematosus Hutchinson: successful treatment with mycophenolate mofetil. Arch Dermatol 2001;137:235 – 236
  4. ^ a b Moore RA, Derry S (2006). "Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised trials and cohort studies of mycophenolate mofetil in lupus nephritis". Arthritis Research & Therapy 8 (6): R182. doi:10.1186/ar2093. PMC 1794528. PMID 17163990. 
  5. ^ a b D'Cruz DP, Khamashta MA, Hughes GR (February 2007). "Systemic lupus erythematosus". Lancet 369 (9561): 587–96. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(07)60279-7. PMID 17307106. 
  6. ^ Walsh M, James M, Jayne D, Tonelli M, Manns BJ, Hemmelgarn BR (September 2007). "Mycophenolate mofetil for induction therapy of lupus nephritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis". Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 2 (5): 968–75. doi:10.2215/CJN.01200307. PMID 17702723. 
  7. ^ Knight SR, Russell NK, Barcena L, Morris PJ (March 2009). "Mycophenolate mofetil decreases acute rejection and may improve graft survival in renal transplant recipients when compared with azathioprine: a systematic review". Transplantation 87 (6): 785–94. doi:10.1097/TP.0b013e3181952623. PMID 19300178. 
  8. ^ Remuzzi G, Lesti M, Gotti E et al. (2004). "Mycophenolate mofetil versus azathioprine for prevention of acute rejection in renal transplantation (MYSS): a randomised trial". Lancet 364 (9433): 503–12. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)16808-6. PMID 15302193. 
  9. ^ Mimouni D, Anhalt GJ, Cummins DL, Kouba DJ, Thorne JE, Nousari HC (June 2003). "Treatment of pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus with mycophenolate mofetil". Archives of Dermatology 139 (6): 739–42. doi:10.1001/archderm.139.6.739. PMID 12810504. 
  10. ^ Diamond MS, Zachariah M, Harris E (2002). "Mycophenolic acid inhibits dengue virus infection by preventing replication of viral RNA". Virology 304 (2): 211–21. doi:10.1006/viro.2002.1685. PMID 12504563. 
  11. ^ Takhampunya R, Ubol S, Houng HS, Cameron CE, Padmanabhan R (July 2006). "Inhibition of dengue virus replication by mycophenolic acid and ribavirin". The Journal of General Virology 87 (Pt 7): 1947–52. doi:10.1099/vir.0.81655-0. PMID 16760396. 
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  14. ^ "CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) August 2009". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. August 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  15. ^ "CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil) August 2009". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. August 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  16. ^ "FDA Issues Second CellCept Warning". 2008-05-18. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  17. ^ "MedWatch Safety Alerts for Human Medical Products". May 2008. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  18. ^ Anderson, HA; Bracewell, JM; Fraser, AR; Jones, D; Robertson, GW; Russell, JD (December 1988). "5-Hydroxymaltol and mycophenolic acid, secondary metabolites from Penicillium echinulatum" (PDF). Transactions of the British Mycological Society 91 (4): 649–651. doi:10.1016/S0007-1536(88)80040-8. 
  19. ^ Fulton B, Markham A. "Mycophenolate mofetil : a review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and clinical efficacy in renal transplantation." Drugs. 1996, 51(2):278-98.
  20. ^ Ransom JT (December 1995). "Mechanism of action of mycophenolate mofetil". Therapeutic Drug Monitoring 17 (6): 681–4. doi:10.1097/00007691-199512000-00023. PMID 8588241. 
  21. ^