Treatment of psoriatic arthritis by extracorporeal photochemotherapy


Professor Herbert Hönigsmann, Department of Dermatology I, University of Vienna, Alser Strasse 4, A-1090 Vienna, Austria.


Five patients with long-standing seronegative arthritis resistant to conventional therapy and who also had psoriasis of the skin were treated with photopheresis. This mode of treatment combines a lymphocyte-enrichment procedure with 8–methoxypsoralen-photochemotherapy. There was a marked in vitro effect on treated lymphocytes, with a reduction of viability, proliferation and mitogen response. There was a slight to moderate clinical improvement in four of the five patients with regard to the strength of grip, swelling, pain, morning stiffness, the dosage of non-steroidal anti-rheumatic drugs and the radiographical changes. The skin lesions did not respond to photopheresis. Short-term side-effects were minimal and consisted of a temporary sensitivity of the eyes to light and signs of circulatory dysregulation immediately after treatment. This experimental therapy has some measurable but not dramatic effect in improving psoriatic arthropathy.