Cellcept for lupus treatment


This information is from about.com and is in no way to advise anyone on what medications to take for their disease. Please consult your doctor to discuss treatment options for your disease.

What is CellCept?:

CellCept (mycophenolate mofetil, or MMF) is an immunosuppressant often used in patients with lupus nephritis (in which the disease attacks the kidneys). Immunosuppresives are used in the treatment of lupus because:

  • They are potent drugs and help control disease activity in major organs, and,
  • May reduce or eliminate the need for steroids.

It is available only by prescription. 

It should be noted that MMF has been shown to significantly reduce steroid dosage for patients with lupus nephritis or treatment-resistant systemic lupus erythematosus, and is considered a first-line therapy for lupus nephritis, often replacing cyclophosphamide.

How does it work?:

As an immunosuppressive, it works by weakening the body’s immune system so it will not produce auto-antibodies. The immune system of lupus patients produces auto-antibodies at a rapid rate, which in turn attack the immune system. When this happens, victims can suffer inflammation (the primary feature of lupus), pain, and tissue damage.

Who shouldn’t take, or should check with their doctor before taking CellCept?:
  • Pregnant and nursing mothers
  • Those planning to have children (both women and men)


    • Note: On Oct. 29, 2007, Roche, which manufactures CellCept, and the FDA notified healthcare providers that use of MMF is associated with increased risk of first trimester pregnancy loss and increased risk of congenital malformations, especially external ear and facial abnormalities including cleft lip and palate, and anomalies of the distal limbs, heart, esophagus, and kidney. The pregnancy category for MMF has been changed from Category C (risk of fetal harm cannot be ruled out) to Category D (positive evidence of fetal risk).
  • Those taking acetazolamide, acyclovir, antibiotics; azathioprine, chlorothiazide, cimetidine, cholestyramine, colestipol, ethacrynic acid, furosemide, ganciclovir, isoproterenol, meperidine, morphine, oral contraceptives, phenytoin, probenecid, procainamide, quinine, salicylate pain relievers, choline magnesium trisalicylate, choline salicylate, diflunisal, magnesium salicylate and salsalate, and theophylline.
  • Those who suffer from liver or kidney disease
  • Those who suffer from Lsech-Nyhan or Keeley-Seegmiller Syndrome
When should you take CellCept?:

Though dosage varies by patient, most take the drug once a day. Your doctor will determine your regimen.

What are possible side effects?:
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Pain in the back, muscles or joints


More Serious Side Effects:

As always, contact your doctor immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms.

  • Swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Uncontrollable shaking hands
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Headache
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Black and tarry stools
  • Red blood in stools
  • Bloody vomit
  • Vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Loose, floppy muscles
  • White patches in mouth or throat
  • Swelling of gums
  • Vision changes
  • Rash


Is there a generic version?:

Mycophenolate mofetil, but there is presently no less expensive generic brand on the market.

Does it go by any other brand names?




3 thoughts on “Cellcept for lupus treatment

  1. sarah1952

    I have been on CellCept for 5 years. It has really helped with fatique and vascular issues. I am on a maintenance dose of 1000mg a day but was on 3000mg for almost 3 years. It can cause vomiting and stomach upset. I try and take it on an empty stomach and wait an hour before I eat. I take 8 prescription drugs and was diagnosed with systemic lupus 30 years ago.

    Your blog is very informative. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sarah!
      I have been checking out some other alternative for the steroids, since my doc is getting stingy with them and I am still in so much pain. I thought cellcept was only for lupus nephritis but have learned differently since researching it. I may talk to my rheumy about letting me begin it instead of these little “bursts” of steroids. I am having severe fatigue right now and other things besides so I am willing to do whatever it takes to tackle the issues head on. Your input really helped me out! Thanks and welcome to this blog!

      • sarah1952

        Hi, I am glad you are finding my input helpful. I have never had kidney involvement. Before taking CellCept, I had a very high dsDNA which is often seen with kidney involvement and indicates a severe form of SLE. My main problems are vascular such as Raynaud’s, rashes, digital ulcers, along with pleurisy, joint aches, swelling, and fatique. I also have the antiphospholipid syndrome, APS.

        Now my dsDNA is much lower and remains stable.

        I need to point out that CellCept is one of the 8 prescription drugs I take. I take generic Plaquenil(25 years), nifedipine ER (15 years), coumadin, vasotec, Nexium, lipitor, and have taken some dose of prednisone for 5 years. Presently on 3mg prednisone to keep WBC from dropping lower.

        Definitely ask about CellCept. I have a much better quality of life and have been stable. Take care!

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