• Guang Chen

5 things you should know before starting azathioprine

Updated: Jan 6

Azathioprine (commonly sold under the brand Imuran) is a strong immunosuppressant (suppresses the immune system). It was developed the 1960s and was one of the first medications that allowed successful kidney transplantation. Please read the following before you start your treatment.




  1. Some people have a genetic mutation (TPMT) that affects the breakdown of azathioprine and its breakdown products. This can be checked with a blood test.

  2. Make sure you have regular bloods tests when you start taking azathioprine.

  3. Azathioprine increases the risk of infections. Speak to your doctor about vaccinations. If you do develop an infection, see your doctor ASAP!

  4. Azathioprine increases the risk of cancers, including skin cancers. Make sure you stay out of the sun and wear sunscreen. Undertake cancer screening advised by your doctor.

  5. Allopurinol (a common gout treatment) may increase azathioprine toxicity

Note: This post is for educational and entertainment purposes. For specific advice regarding your health and treatment, please speak to your doctor or specialist.