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J Am Acad Dermatol. 1997 Mar;36(3 Pt 1):423-32.

Cyclosporine as maintenance therapy in patients with severe psoriasis.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, New York University School of Medicine, NY 10016, USA.



Low-dose cyclosporine therapy for severe plaque psoriasis is effective. Most side effects can be controlled by patient monitoring, with appropriate dose adjustment or pharmacologic intervention, or both, if indicated. Prevention or reversibility of laboratory and chemical abnormalities may be achieved by discontinuation of therapy after the induction of clearing. However, relapse occurs rapidly on discontinuation. Maintenance therapy with cyclosporine after induction has not been fully evaluated.


Our purpose was to compare a regimen of 3.0 mg/kg per day of oral cyclosporine with placebo in maintaining remission or improvement in patients with psoriasis.


After a 16-week unblinded induction phase in which 181 patients received cyclosporine, 5.0 mg/kg per day (an increase up to 6.0 mg/kg per day and a decrease to 3.0 mg/kg per day were allowed, if required, to achieve efficacy or tolerability, respectively), those patients showing a 70% decrease or more in involved body surface area (BSA) entered the 24-week maintenance phase and were randomly assigned to either placebo, cyclosporine, 1.5 mg/kg per day, or cyclosporine, 3.0 mg/kg per day. Patients were considered to have had a relapse when BSA returned to 50% or more of the prestudy baseline value. Clinical efficacy, adverse effects, and laboratory values were monitored regularly throughout both study phases.


During induction, cyclosporine at approximately 5.0 mg/kg per day produced a reduction in BSA of 70% or more in 86% of the patients. During maintenance, the median time to relapse was 6 weeks in both the placebo and cyclosporine 1.5 mg/kg per day groups, but was longer than the 24-week maintenance period in the 3.0 mg/kg per day group (p < 0.001 vs placebo). By the end of the maintenance period, 42% of the patients in the 3.0 mg/kg per day cyclosporine group had a relapse compared with 84% in the placebo group. Changes in laboratory values associated with the higher induction dosage generally exhibited partial or complete return toward mean prestudy baseline values during the maintenance phase, with the greatest degree of normalization in the placebo group.


Cyclosporine, 3.0 mg/kg per day, adequately and safely maintained 58% of patients with psoriasis for a 6-month period after clearing of their psoriasis with doses of approximately 5.0 mg/kg per day.

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