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N Engl J Med. 2003 Nov 20;349(21):2014-22.

Etanercept as monotherapy in patients with psoriasis.

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Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, USA.



Inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of psoriasis. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of etanercept, a TNF antagonist, for the treatment of plaque psoriasis.


In this 24-week, double-blind study, 672 patients underwent randomization and 652 either received placebo or received etanercept subcutaneously at a low dose (25 mg once weekly), a medium dose (25 mg twice weekly), or a high dose (50 mg twice weekly). After 12 weeks, patients in the placebo group began twice-weekly treatment with 25 mg of etanercept. The primary measure of clinical response was the psoriasis area-and-severity index.


At week 12, there was an improvement from base line of 75 percent or more in the psoriasis area-and-severity index in 4 percent of the patients in the placebo group, as compared with 14 percent of those in the low-dose--etanercept group, 34 percent in the medium-dose--etanercept group, and 49 percent in the high-dose-etanercept group (P<0.001 for all three comparisons with the placebo group). The clinical responses continued to improve with longer treatment. At week 24, there was at least a 75 percent improvement in the psoriasis area-and-severity index in 25 percent of the patients in the low-dose group, 44 percent of those in the medium-dose group, and 59 percent in the high-dose group. The responses as measured by improvements in the psoriasis area-and-severity index were paralleled by improvements in global assessments by physicians and the patients and in quality-of-life measures. Etanercept was generally well tolerated.


The treatment of psoriasis with etanercept led to a significant reduction in the severity of disease over a period of 24 weeks.

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