This review of clinical trials aimed to find out which is the most effective and safest treatment option for pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus.
Pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus are rare diseases characterised by fragile blisters and sores on the skin and mucosa. They are auto-immune diseases which are caused by the body making an antibody against the person’s own skin. These diseases are chronic and are not currently curable. Pemphigus vulgaris and foliaceus are managed with drugs which suppress the immune system. The aim of treatment is to suppress blister formation. Systemic glucocorticoids are the cornerstone of management in pemphigus, however adjuvant immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory agents are commonly used. There are many treatments available, however it is not known which is the most effective or safest treatment option, or which is the best combination.
This review included data from 11 clinical trials involving 404 participants. The studies had very small numbers of participants, so can provide only limited information. Ten different active treatments were studied, including prednisolone, pulsed oral dexamethasone, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, dapsone, mycophenolate, plasma exchange, topical epidermal growth factor and traditional Chinese medicine.
This review found insufficient information to conclude which is the most effective and safest treatment plan. We found that mycophenolate mofetil appears to be more effective than azathioprine in controlling disease, although no difference was seen in remission. We found that taking azathioprine and cyclophosphamide decreased the amount of glucocorticoids required. Topical epidermal growth factor decreased time required for lesions to heal by 6 days (median). We found no difference in withdrawal due to adverse events in any study, although differing adverse event profiles were observed for each intervention. We were not able to conclude which treatments are superior overall.
Multiple treatments are available for pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus and there is a variation in dosage plan and combination of drugs used, which makes choice of treatment schedule complex. In addition, response to treatment can vary between individuals. Treatments need to be chosen after careful consideration of the potential benefits and side effects, in the context of the individual’s other medical conditions. This review found insufficient information to conclude which is the most effective and safest treatment regimen. Further studies are required to determine the optimal treatment regimen, especially to assess the optimal glucocorticoid dose, the role of adjuvant immunosuppressive medications, and long-term adverse events to improve harm:benefit analyses.
A range of interventions have been described for treatment of pemphigus, however the optimal therapeutic strategy has not been established.
To assess the efficacy and safety of all interventions used in the management of pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus.
We searched the Cochrane Skin Group Specialised Register (October 2008), The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library Issue 4, 2008), MEDLINE (2003 to October 2008), EMBASE (2005 to October 2008), LILACS (1981 to October 2008), Ongoing Trials Registers, reference lists of articles, conference proceedings from international pemphigus meetings and contacted experts in the field.
Randomised controlled trials of any intervention in pemphigus vulgaris or pemphigus foliaceus.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently assessed quality and extracted data from studies. All investigators were contacted for further information. Adverse events were identified from included studies.
Eleven studies with a total of 404 participants (337 pemphigus vulgaris, 27 pemphigus foliaceus and 40 not specified ) were identified. The quality of included studies was not high, the majority of studies did not report allocation concealment, and power was limited by very small sample sizes. Interventions assessed included prednisolone dose regimen, pulsed dexamethasone, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, cyclosporine, dapsone, mycophenolate, plasma exchange, topical epidermal growth factor and traditional Chinese medicine. Ten studies included participants with newly diagnosed or newly active recurrent disease, and one trial included participants in maintenance phase.
There was sufficient data for 4 meta-analyses, each pooling results of two studies only. For the majority of interventions, results were inconclusive. We found some interventions to be superior for certain outcomes, although we were unable to conclude which treatments are superior overall. Mycophenolate was more effective in achieving disease control than azathioprine (1 study; n=40; RR 0.72; 95% CI 0.52 to 0.99, NNT 3.7). There was evidence of a steroid-sparing benefit of azathioprine (1 study; n=57; MWD -3919 mg prednisolone; 95% CI -6712 to -1126) and cyclophosphamide (1 study; n=54; MWD -3355 mg prednisolone; 95% CI -6144 to -566) compared to glucocorticoids alone. Topical epidermal growth factor decreased time to control (1 study; n=20; HR 2.35; 95% CI 1.62 to 3.41).
There is inadequate information available at present to ascertain the optimal therapy for pemphigus vulgaris or pemphigus foliaceus. Further research is required, especially to assess the optimal glucocorticoid dose, the role of adjuvant immunosuppressive medications, and long-term adverse events to improve harm:benefit analyses.
Source: Cochrane Review (http://www.cochrane.org/reviews/en/ab006263.html)
This is a Cochrane review abstract and plain language summary, prepared and maintained by The Cochrane Collaboration, currently published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009 Issue 1, Copyright © 2009 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.. The full text of the review is available in The Cochrane Library (ISSN 1464-780X).
This record should be cited as: Martin LK, Werth V, Villanueva E, Segall J, Murrell DF. Interventions for pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2009, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD006263. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD006263.pub2
This version first published online: January 21. 2009