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December 1992

Treatment of Pemphigus Vulgaris With Pulse Intravenous Cyclophosphamide

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Dermatology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

Arch Dermatol. 1992;128(12):1626-1630. doi:10.1001/archderm.1992.04530010064010

• Background.  —Although corticosteroids have dramatically altered the prognosis in pemphigus vulgaris, morbidity and mortality from systemic corticosteroid side effects remains high. While immunosuppressive agents have been successfully used in pemphigus vulgaris, there is a high incidence of side effects with these agents as well. Particularly bothersome are reports of increased risk of malignancy with longterm use of immunosuppressive agents. For these reasons, we used a protocol that includes low-dose oral cyclophosphamide coupled with pulse intravenous cyclophosphamide in two patients with recalcitrant pemphigus vulgaris.

Observations.  —Both patients responded well to monthly doses of intravenous cyclophosphamide with rapid decrease in the frequency and severity of blistering, resulting in resolution of their disease after 7 and 10 months, respectively.

Conclusions.  —Pulse doses of immunosuppressive agents appear to be successful in the treatment of pemphigus vulgaris. High-dose steroid therapy can be tapered with the use of this treatment. Because monthly intravenous doses of cyclophosphamide lead to a substantially reduced cumulative dose, when compared with standard oral regimens, the risk of developing malignancy may also be reduced. Further studies using larger groups of patients are needed to evaluate the efficacy of pulse intravenous cyclophosphamide in pemphigus vulgaris. Long-term follow up will be necessary to compare the incidence of malignancy in patients receiving pulse doses of immunosuppressive agents with that in patients receiving continuous oral treatment.