Treatment of refractory adult-onset pityriasis rubra pilaris with TNF-alpha antagonists: A case series

S. Garcovich, A. R. Di Giampetruzzi, G. Antonelli, A. Garcovich, B. Didona

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Pityriasis rubra pilaris (PRP) is a rare inflammatory dermatosis with frequent clinical presentation as erythroderma. Conventional systemic treatment is often unsatisfactory and limited by long-term toxicity. The use of tumour necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists has been reported previously in single cases, but lacking long-term follow-up or comparison between different biological agents. Objectives To assess the long-term efficacy and safety of TNF-alpha antagonist, infliximab and etanercept, either in monotherapy or in combination therapy of severe, refractory adult-onset PRP. Methods Seven patients of adult-onset PRP, six newly diagnosed type-I and 1 type-II, which were resistant or ineligible to conventional systemic treatment, received a single course of infliximab or etanercept therapy, alone or in combination with low-dose acitretin (>0.25 mg/kg/daily). After complete remission and treatment discontinuation, a follow-up period of 12 months was evaluated for relapses. Results Six patients obtained complete remission after a single course of anti-TNF-alpha therapy: mean therapy duration was 19.3 weeks (range 6-48 weeks). All patients obtained significant clearing (>75% of body surface area) of skin lesions at week 12. Two patients with marked keratoderma developed localized disease recurrence during treatment. During follow-up, only a single patient, affected by type II PRP, had disease relapse. Conclusions Both TNF-alpha antagonists proved successful for the treatment of refractory, adult-onset PRP, yielding complete and persistent clinical responses in type-I PRP. Infliximab was associated with a more rapid onset of action, while treatment duration was comparable with etanercept. PRP type II warranted long-term therapy and showed relapse after drug discontinuation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-884
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010


  • etanercept
  • infliximab
  • pityriasis rubra pilaris
  • recurrence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Infectious Diseases


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