The Journal of dermatological treatment

Thalidomide: Still an important second-line treatment in refractory cutaneous lupus erythematosus?

PMID 24731053


Cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) can be a severe disease, characterized by extensive, disfiguring lesions and a relapsing course. Thalidomide is known as an effective treatment for CLE, however, its use is restricted by its potential side-effects. Nevertheless, it remains a valuable option to consider. Therefore, it is important to report new clinical experiences. The data of 30 patients with refractory CLE, who were treated with thalidomide, were retrospectively analyzed. The response rate was categorized as complete, partial or no response. The relapse rate and the occurrence of side-effects were registered. Six patients prematurely discontinued treatment because of side-effects. The response rate was 100% in the remaining 24 patients, including 20 patients (83%) with complete response and 4 (27%) with partial response. Clinical relapse was frequent (73%) and occurred between 3 and 24 weeks after withdrawal of thalidomide. Nine patients (30%) developed peripheral neuropathy. In the majority, there was no complete resolution of the neuropathy-associated symptoms after stopping thalidomide. One patient developed a thrombosis in an artery stent. Because of high risk of polyneuropathy, low-dose thalidomide should be used and long-term therapy should be avoided. Therefore, it should be recommended to combine thalidomide with other treatments for CLE.

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(±)-Thalidomide, ≥98%, powder