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Br J Dermatol. 2003 Jun;148(6):1222-9.

Protein A immunoadsorption: a novel and effective adjuvant treatment of severe pemphigus.

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Departments of Dermatology and Transfusion Medicine and Immunohematology, University of Würzburg, Josef-Schneider-Str 2, 97080 Würzburg, Germany.



Pemphigus foliaceus (PF) and pemphigus vulgaris (PV) are autoimmune blistering skin diseases usually treated with high-dose systemic corticosteroids and other immunosuppressants that may cause severe side-effects. Plasmapheresis also has been demonstrated to be of benefit in the treatment of pemphigus. In contrast to plasmapheresis, staphylococcal protein A immunoadsorption (PA-IA) specifically removes immunoglobulin from the circulation, allows treatment of larger plasma volumes, and does not require the substitution of plasma components.


To determine the effectiveness and side-effects of PA-IA in patients with severe pemphigus.


Five patients with severe pemphigus (PV, n = 4; PF, n = 1) were treated by PA-IA. Three of these patients had been refractory to various treatment regimens. In addition to PA-IA, methylprednisolone, 0.5 mg x kg-1 body weight day-1 was given initially and subsequently tapered.


In all patients, a dramatic clinical improvement was seen within 2 weeks after initiation of therapy. Patients were free of lesions after 3, 4, 4, 10 and 21 weeks of treatment, respectively. Concurrently, autoantibody levels decreased rapidly.


PA-IA is a rational, effective, and safe adjuvant therapy for severe pemphigus and warrants wider use for this indication. A controlled study should compare side-effects and effectiveness of PA-IA with other treatment options for pemphigus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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