Topical application of the immunosuppressant tacrolimus accelerates carcinogenesis in mouse skin

The British Journal of Dermatology
Y NiwaH Sumi


Tacrolimus, produced by the fungus Streptomyces tsukabaensis, is a potent macrolide immunosuppressant widely used in liver and kidney transplantation. Topical tacrolimus has recently been found to be an effective treatment for atopic dermatitis (AD). Because of the well-known association between T-cell immunosuppression and an increased risk of carcinogenesis, we investigated the effect of topical tacrolimus on skin carcinogenesis in 117 mice. Approximately 8 cm2 of the shaved dorsal skin of 7-week-old female CD-1 mice was treated with 7,12-dimethylbenz[alpha]anthracene (DMBA) dissolved in acetone, which is in general use as a tumour initiator, or acetone alone, on day 1 of the experiment, followed by promoting treatment with 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) with or without tacrolimus, or acetone with or without tacrolimus, for 20 weeks. The mice were divided into six treatment groups: (1) DMBA followed by acetone; (2) DMBA followed by TPA; (3) DMBA followed by acetone + tacrolimus; (4) DMBA followed by TPA + tacrolimus; (5) acetone followed by acetone + tacrolimus; and (6) acetone followed by acetone (control). The induction of skin tumours was significantly greater in the TPA-treated groups than in the absence of TP...Continue Reading


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