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Long-term efficacy of a single course of infliximab in hidradenitis suppurativa.

BACKGROUND: Hidradenitis suppurativa is a chronic inflammatory skin disease characterized by abscess formation, predominantly in the axillae and groins. The disease is difficult to treat and has a severe impact on quality of life. Recently, several case reports have been published describing successful treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa with infliximab and other tumour necrosis factor alpha inhibitors.

OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the long-term efficacy of a single course of infliximab.

METHODS: Ten patients with severe, recalcitrant hidradenitis were treated with infliximab (three infusions of 5 mg kg(-1) at weeks 0, 2 and 6) and followed up for at least 1 year. The disease activity was measured using laboratory parameters and a recently developed acne score. The patients rated the efficacy of infliximab on a 10-point scale at regular intervals. Quality of life was measured before and after treatment using the Dermatology Quality of Life Index (DQLI).

RESULTS: All patients improved within 2-6 weeks. The average acne score diminished from 164+/-50 (mean+/-SD) before treatment to 89+/-49 after 1 year (P=0.002). The mean CRP (C-reactive protein) was reduced from 31.7 mg mL(-1) to 5.5 mg mL(-1) after 1 month (P=0.015). Patients judged the efficacy with a score of 7.9. The mean DQLI was reduced from 18.4+/-7.9 before treatment to 9.3+/-9.1 after 1 year (P=0.007). In three patients long-lasting improvement was observed, with no recurrence of lesions in a 2-year follow-up period. The other patients showed recurrence of lesions after 8.5 months (range 4.3-13.4 months).

CONCLUSIONS: Infliximab is an effective treatment in severe hidradenitis suppurativa, leading to reduction of symptoms for a prolonged period.

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