Background The first choice treatment for vitiligo vulgaris is narrow-band UVB (NB-UVB), but no satisfactory treatment exists.
Objectives To investigate if Polypodium leucotomos, an antioxidative and immunomodulatory plant extract, improves NB-UVB-induced repigmentation.
Methods Fifty patients with vitiligo vulgaris randomly received 250 mg oral P. leucotomos or placebo three times daily, combined with NB-UVB twice weekly for 25–26 weeks.
Results Repigmentation was higher in the P. leucotomos group vs. placebo in the head and neck area (44% vs. 27%, P = 0.06). Small repigmentation increases (P = n.s.) were observed for the trunk (6% increased repigmentation), extremities (4%), and hands and feet (5%) in the P. leucotomos group vs. placebo. Patients attending more than 80% of required NB-UVB sessions showed increased repigmentation in the head and neck area in the P. leucotomos group vs. placebo (50% vs. 19%, P < 0.002); no significant differences were seen in the other body areas. Patients with skin types 2 and 3 showed more repigmentation in the head and neck area in the P. leucotomos group vs. placebo (47% vs. 21%, P = 0.01), and no significant differences were seen in the other body areas. No conclusions could be drawn on skin types 4 and 5 due to low patient numbers.
Conclusion There is a clear trend towards an increase in repigmentation of vitiligo vulgaris affecting the head and neck area when NB-UVB phototherapy is combined with oral P. leucotomos. This effect may be more pronounced in light skin types.