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J Dermatol. 2004 Dec;31(12):961-70.

Bicentre experience in the treatment of severe generalised atopic dermatitis with extracorporeal photochemotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Gudrunstrasse 56, D-44791 Bochum, Germany.


Pilot studies have shown an improvement of atopic dermatitis in approximately 65% of patients during extracorporeal photopheresis (ExP) therapy. The purpose of the present clinical trial was to investigate the response to ExP by controlling clinical and laboratory parameters during short term ExP therapy in patients with severe generalised atopic dermatitis. Thirty-five patients with severe, therapy-resistant atopic dermatitis were treated with ExP in an open clinical trial at two week intervals over a period of 6 to 10 cycles. Disease activity was measured before each cycle by SCORAD index together with a standardized protocol for blood samples. ExP led to a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in SCORAD from 74.4 +/- 15.5 before to 36.8 +/- 16.8 after ExP therapy (mean 10 cycles). Approximately 70% (24/33 patients = responder) of patients had a favourable response to ExP requiring at least 6 cycles. The decrease in SCORAD was accompanied by a significant decrease of eosinophil cationic protein (27%), sE-selectin (37%) and sIL-2R (53%) levels in serum (p < 0.05). No significant correlation between a decrease in these levels and values of blood eosinophils or lymphocytes was found (p > 0.05). In comparison to responders, most non-responders were characterised by very high levels of total IgE before and during therapy (p < 0.05). The present clinical trial confirms that short term ExP is an effective treatment for certain patients with severe atopic dermatitis based on anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Total IgE could be a predictor of outcome in ExP treatment.

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