Treatment of toxic epidermal necrolysis with cyclosporin A

J M Arévalo, J A Lorente, C González-Herrada, J Jiménez-Reyes
Journal of Trauma 2000, 48 (3): 473-8

BACKGROUND: Toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is a severe skin disorder characterized by separation of the dermal-epidermal junction, as is observed in second-degree superficial burns. It has been proposed that immunosuppressive treatment may improve prognosis of patients with TEN.

METHODS: We report here a case series of patients with TEN treated with cyclosporin A (CSA) without other concomitant immunosuppressive agent. These patients (n = 11) were consecutively admitted to our Intensive Care Burn Unit because of severe TEN, involving a large body surface area (83 +/- 17% [mean +/- SD], median, 90%; range, 35-96%) and were treated with CSA 3 mg/kg per day enterally every 12 hours. We compared the series of patients treated with CSA with a historical series of patients admitted to our Intensive Care Burn Unit before CSA was introduced as part of the treatment protocol These patients (n = 6) were treated with cyclophosphamide (150 mg i.v. every 12 hours) and different doses of corticosteroids (> or =1 mg/kg per day of 6-methyl-prednisolone). Both groups of patients were similar in regard to age, delay from onset of disease to Intensive Care Burn Unit admission, and body surface area involved.

RESULTS: Time from the onset of skin signs to arrest of the disease progression (1.4 +/- 0.3 days, vs. 3.6 +/- 1.5 days) and to complete reepithelialization (12.0 +/- 3.6 days, vs. 17.6 +/- 3.1 days) was significantly shorter in patients treated with CSA compared with those treated with cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids (p = 0.0002, and p = 0.0058, respectively). Significantly fewer patients in the CSA group had > or =4 organs failing (2 of 11 vs. 3 of 6, respectively, p = 0.029), had severe leukopenia (<1,000 cells/microL) (0 of 11 vs. 4 of 6, respectively, p = 0.006), or died (3 of 6 vs. 0 of 11, respectively, p = 0.0029).

CONCLUSION: We conclude that immunosuppressive treatment with CSA is safe and is associated with a rapid reepithelialization rate and a low mortality rate in patients with severe TEN. Our data suggest that this regimen could be more effective than treatment with cyclophosphamide and corticosteroids. Prospective controlled trials are required to test the hypothesis that CSA is more effective than cyclophosphamide or other immunosuppressive regimens for the treatment of TEN.

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