Journal Article
Randomized Controlled Trial
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Topical tacrolimus versus corticosteroids in childhood moderate-to-severe atopic dermatitis and the impact on airway inflammation: a long-term randomized open-label study.

BACKGROUND: Childhood atopic dermatitis (AD) is often followed by other atopic comorbidities such as asthma.

AIM: To compare the effectiveness of topical tacrolimus (TAC) and topical corticosteroids (TCSs) and their impact on airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness in patients with paediatric AD.

METHODS: This was a 3-year randomized open-label comparative follow-up study of 152 1-3-year-old children with moderate-to-severe AD (trial registration: EudraCT2012-002412-95). Frequent study visits including clinical examinations, laboratory investigations (total IgE, specific IgEs, blood eosinophils), skin prick and respiratory function tests to assess airway inflammation and bronchial hyperresponsiveness (exhaled nitric oxide, airway responsiveness to exercise and methacholine) were performed.

RESULTS: Changes in eczema parameters at 36 months were similar in the TCS and TAC groups for mean body surface area (BSA) difference 1.4 [95% confidence interval (CI) -1.48 to 4.19); P = 0.12], mean Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) difference 0.2 (95% CI -1.38 to 1.82; P = 0.2), mean Investigator's Global Assessment (IGA) difference, 0.3 (95% CI -0.12 to 0.67; P = 0.12) and mean transepidermal water loss (TEWL) difference at the eczema site, -0.3 (95% CI -4.93 to 4.30; P = 0.96) and at the control site, 1.4 (95% CI -0.96 to 3.60, P = 0.19). The control-site TEWL increased more towards the end of follow-up in the TCS vs. TAC group (mean change difference -4.2, 95% CI -8.14 to -0.29; P = 0.04). No significant impact on development of airway inflammation or bronchial hyperresponsiveness occurred in early effective eczema-treatment responders vs. others ('early' vs. 'other' response was defined as the difference in treatment response to airway outcomes in BSA, EASI or IGA at 3 months).

CONCLUSION: Children with moderate-to-severe AD benefit from long-term treatment with TCS or TAC. There were no significant differences in treatment efficacy. No differences in the impact on airways occurred between early effective treatment responders vs. others.

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