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Ophthalmology. 2010 Jul;117(7):1430-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ophtha.2009.11.022. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Safety and effectiveness of interferon alpha-2a in treatment of patients with Behçet's uveitis refractory to conventional treatments.

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Gülhane Military Medical Faculty, Department of Ophthalmology, Etlik, Ankara, Turkey.



To evaluate the intermediate-term safety and effectiveness of interferon alpha-2a (IFNalpha2a) in patients with Behçet's uveitis (BU) refractory to corticosteroids and immunosuppressive agents.


Open, nonrandomized, uncontrolled, interventional, prospective study.


Fifty-three patients (106 eyes) with active, vision-threatening BU who failed to respond to conventional treatments.


In 53 patients, acute inflammation was suppressed with effective prednisolone dosage (1-2 mg/kg/day, tapered to 10 mg within 4-6 weeks). The patients were treated with IFNalpha2a 4.5 million international units (MIU) 3 times per week for the first 3 months followed by IFNalpha2a 3 MIU 3 times per week for the next 3 months. Observation or other treatment methods were performed according to the decision tree developed for this study.


Remission and complete response (primary outcome measures), frequency of uveitis attacks, visual acuity (VA), and adverse effects (secondary outcome measures).


During 2 years of follow-up (median 65 months, range 12-130 months), compliance with the therapy was excellent. At the end of 1-year follow-up, treatment response was obtained in 45 of 53 patients (84.9%). The mean attack rate of 3.6+/-1.1 per year (range, 2-8) decreased to 0.56+/-0.75 (range, 0-4) per year (P=0.001). Visual acuity improved (> or = 0.2 logarithm of the minimum angle of resolution units from initial VA) in 30 eyes (28.3%) and worsened in 12 eyes (11.3%). Five patients (9.4%) did not respond to the initial treatment, and 3 patients (5.6%) developed severe adverse effects, including psoriasis, epileptic seizure, and extreme tiredness. Fifteen patients (28.3%) were off treatment for all the medications and disease free for 28+/-13.1 months (range, 12-50 months).


These results suggest that IFNalpha2a may be a valuable treatment option in BU that is refractory to corticosteroids and conventional immunosuppressive agents. The possible role of IFNalpha2a as a first-line agent in BU should be validated in randomized controlled clinical trials against newly described biologic agents.


The author(s) have no proprietary or commercial interest in any materials discussed in this article.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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