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Anti-immunoglobulin E in the treatment of refractory atopic dermatitis


  • Conflict of interest: none declared.

Professor Beom Joon Kim, Department of Dermatology, Chung-ang University College of Medicine, 224-1 Heukseok-Dong, Dongjak-Gu, Seoul 156-755, Korea


Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic and relapsing inflammatory skin disease affecting > 10% of children and 1–3% of adults, and can cause significant morbidity. The incidence of AD seems to be increasing. Omalizumab, a monoclonal antibody, has recently been suggested as a potential new systemic treatment for patients with recalcitrant AD with elevated IgE levels, based on its efficacy in treating asthma and allergic rhinitis. We report a study of 10 patients with AD (aged 19–35 years) who received anti-IgE treatment for persistent asthma. All patients, regardless of IgE value, were treated with a fixed schedule of eight cycles of omalizumab 300 mg administered subcutaneously at intervals of 2 weeks. Eczema symptoms were scored at baseline and after 2, 4 and 6 months of treatment. There was a steady improvement in the objective SCORAD (SCORing Atopic Dermatitis), with significantly lower scores observed at the 6-month evaluation. At 2 months after the end of treatment, two patients had a very good result (SCORAD reduction of > 50%), five patients had a satisfactory result (reduction of 25–50%), and three patients had no clinically relevant result (reduction of 25–50%). No patient had worsening of the AD (increase of > 25% in SCORAD), and once a clinical improvement occurred, none of the patients experienced worsening of their eczema symptoms while on omalizumab. With the caveats of the financial expense and unknown long-term risks of malignancy associated with omalizumab, this drug should be considered for treatment-resistant patients with AD, particularly patients with high IgE level whose symptoms are not controlled by routine therapies. Omalizumab has proven useful in treating asthma, but it may also prove valuable for other conditions, such as allergic rhinitis, food allergies, chronic urticaria, and AD, as shown by the present study.