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Arch Dermatol. 1998 Dec;134(12):1532-40.

Nonsurgical repigmentation therapies in vitiligo. Meta-analysis of the literature.

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  • 1Netherlands Institute for Pigmentary Disorders, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



To assess the effectiveness and safety of nonsurgical repigmentation therapies in localized and generalized vitiligo by means of a meta-analysis.


Computerized searches of bibliographic databases, a complementary manual literature search, and contacts with researchers and pharmaceutical firms.


Predefined selection criteria were applied to both randomized and nonrandomized controlled trials.


Two investigators independently assessed the articles for inclusion. When there was a disagreement, a third investigator was consulted.


Sixty-three studies were found on therapies for localized vitiligo. Of these, 10 of 11 randomized controlled trials and 29 of 110 patient series were included. One hundred seventeen studies on therapies for generalized vitiligo were found. Of these, 10 of 22 randomized controlled trials and 46 of 231 patient series were included. Among randomized controlled trials on localized vitiligo, the pooled odds ratio vs placebo was significant for topical class 3 corticosteroids (14.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.45-83.72). In the patient series, topical class 3 and class 4 corticosteroids carried the highest mean success rates (56% [95% CI, 50%-62%] and 55% [95% CI, 49%-61%], respectively). Side effects were reported mostly with topical psoralen and intralesional and class 4 corticosteroids. In the randomized controlled trials on generalized vitiligo, the odds ratio vs placebo was significant for oral methoxsalen plus sunlight (23.37; 95% CI, 1.33-409.93), oral psoralen plus sunlight (19.87; 95% CI, 2.37-166.32), and oral trioxsalen plus sunlight (3.75; 95% CI, 1.24-11.29). In the series, the highest mean success rates were achieved with narrowband UV-B (63%; 95% CI, 50%-76%), broadband UV-B (57%; 95% CI, 29%-82%), and oral methoxsalen plus UV-A therapy (51%; 95% CI, 46%-56%). Oral methoxsalen plus UV-A was associated with the highest rates of side effects. No side effects were reported with UV-B therapy.


Class 3 corticosteroids and UV-B therapy are the most effective and safest therapies for localized and for generalized vitiligo, respectively.

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