Tacrolimus, previously known as FK506, is the active ingredient in Prograf. Tacrolimus is a macrolide immunosuppressant produced by Streptomyces tsukubaensis. It reduces peptidyl-prolyl isomerase activity by binding to the immunophilin FKBP-12 (FK506 binding protein) creating a new complex. This FKBP12-FK506 complex interacts with and inhibits calcineurin thus inhibiting both T-lymphocyte signal transduction and IL-2 transcription. Tacrolimus inhibits T-lymphocyte activation, although the exact mechanism of action is not known. Experimental evidence suggests that tacrolimus binds to an intracellular protein, FKBP-12. A complex of tacrolimus-FKBP-12, calcium, calmodulin, and calcineurin is then formed and the phosphatase activity of calcineurin inhibited. This effect may prevent the dephosphorylation and translocation of nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NF-AT), a nuclear component thought to initiate gene transcription for the formation of lymphokines (such as interleukin-2, gamma interferon). The net result is the inhibition of T-lymphocyte activation (i.e., immunosuppression). Prograf is indicated for the prophylaxis of organ rejection in patients receiving allogeneic liver transplants, kidney transplants, heart transplants. It has also been used in a topical preparation in the treatment of severe atopic dermatitis. NCATS
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