COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW
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Novel treatments for drug-induced toxic epidermal necrolysis (Lyell's syndrome).

Drug-induced toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) is a life-threatening disease characterized by extensive destruction of the epidermis. It apparently results from the formation of specific toxic drug metabolites by the keratinocytes. The mortality rate which averages 25-30% is mainly due to secondary septicemia, and to ionic and metabolic disturbances following loss of epidermal integrity. Apoptosis is the likely mechanism leading to massive keratinocyte death in TEN. Dysregulations in the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) pathway, CD95 system (Fas ligand, CD95L; Fas receptor, CD95R) and calcium homeostasis in the epidermis are involved in this apoptotic process. An active role has also been ascribed to T lymphocytes, macrophages and factor XIIIa-positive dermal dendrocytes. Despite progress, treatment of TEN remains controversial. In the past, systemic glucocorticoids were used in order to target the inflammatory reaction in TEN. However, there was no evidence for improvement of the healing process, while corticosteroids worsened the prognosis by increasing the risk of septicemia. Only a few cases have been treated with other drugs including cyclophosphamide, pentoxyfilline, thalidomide, anti-TNF-alpha antibodies and cyclosporin A. In the recent past, some TEN patients were treated with intravenous human immunoglobulins (IVIG). The rationale for such a treatment was to block the CD95 system on keratinocytes. The early promising clinical results of IVIG treatment in TEN were subsequently challenged. This review compares the effectiveness and drawbacks of the major drugs presently used in TEN treatment. Some future prospects in TEN management are also discussed.

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