Expert opinion on pharmacotherapy

A review of acitretin, a systemic retinoid for the treatment of psoriasis.

PMID 16086658


Acitretin is a second-generation, systemic retinoid that has been approved for the treatment of psoriasis since 1997. It can be considered one of the treatments of choice for pustular and erythrodermic psoriasis. However, the efficacy of acitretin as a monotherapy for plaque psoriasis is less, although it is often used in combination therapy with other systemic psoriasis therapies, especially ultraviolet B or psoralen plus ultraviolet A phototherapy, to increase efficacy. Such combination treatments may potentially minimise toxicity by using lower doses of each of the two agents. All systemic retinoids are potent teratogens. The most common side effects are mucocutanous effects such as cheilitis and hair loss, which are dose-dependent. Acitretin is not immunosuppressive, is generally safe for long-term use and has no time limit restrictions, which makes it useful in combination therapy and for maintenance therapy.