Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms: is cutaneous phenotype a prognostic marker for outcome? A review of clinicopathological features of 27 cases.

BACKGROUND: Drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) describes a heterogeneous group of severe adverse reactions to medications. The cutaneous phenotype has a number of guises, accompanied by a variety of systemic features including fever, haematological abnormalities and visceral involvement, most commonly the liver. Clinical markers of prognosis have not been identified.

OBJECTIVES: To assess the cutaneous signs and dermatopathological features of DRESS in order to identify potential prognostic markers.

METHODS: We reviewed the clinical features, dermatopathology and outcomes of 27 consecutive cases of DRESS presenting to a single unit.

RESULTS: Four distinct patterns of cutaneous involvement were identified: an urticated papular exanthem (13/27 patients), a morbilliform erythema (three of 27), an exfoliative erythroderma (three of 27) and an erythema multiforme-like (EM-like) reaction consisting of atypical targets (eight of 27). All patients mounted a fever, most developed lymphadenopathy (24/27) and peripheral eosinophilia (25/27) and the most common organ involved was the liver (27/27). Review of the dermatopathic features of patients with DRESS demonstrated a superficial spongiotic dermatitis in the majority of cases (16/27). A smaller number of cases showed basal cell vacuolar degeneration and necrotic keratinocytes (nine of 27). The patients with these biopsy findings more commonly had an EM-like cutaneous phenotype, and more severe hepatic involvement. Three patients died, two following failed liver transplants.

CONCLUSIONS: Our series is the first in which a detailed dermatological assessment has been made of consecutive patients presenting with DRESS, and the largest U.K. series to date. Our results suggest a possible prognostic role of the cutaneous and dermatopathic findings in DRESS in predicting the severity of visceral involvement in this syndrome. What's already known about this topic? • Drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS) has a heterogeneous clinical presentation, with a skin eruption of variable morphology. • DRESS carries considerable morbidity and mortality, usually hepatic in origin, although renal, pulmonary and pericardial involvement can be seen. What does this study add? •   The cutaneous phenotype in DRESS can be categorized as an urticated papular exanthem, a morbilliform erythema, exfoliative erythroderma or erythema multiforme-like (EM-like). •   An EM-like eruption DRESS may be prognostic of more severe hepatic involvement.

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