Background Pemphigus vulgaris is a chronic autoimmune mucocutaneous blistering disease. In the last 20 years, immunomodulatory agents have been added to the therapeutic armamentarium. Only few recent studies have evaluated the long-term outcome of pemphigus and possible prognostic parameters in a large group of patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate and analyse the course and prognostic factors of pemphigus in patients followed from 1976 to 2004.
Patients and methods The study group consisted of 155 patients attending the pemphigus clinic of a major tertiary-care medical centre. Background, clinical and treatment data were derived from the patient files and telephone contact. Statistical analysis was performed with Pearson correlation, Fisher exact test, and univariate and multivariate logistic regression models.
Results Age < 40 years at disease onset, Sephardic Jewish origin, and mucosal involvement at diagnosis and high number of relapses were found to be independent prognostic factors of poor outcome. A long (> 1 year) primary remission was a good prognostic factor. During the 26-year study period, 16 patients died. None of the deaths was directly related to either the disease or a complication of treatment.
Conclusions The course and outcome of pemphigus are worse in patients who are young at diagnosis (< 40 years) or of Sephardic Jewish origin. Mucosal involvement at diagnosis and poor response to treatment also predict poor outcome. The mortality rate of pemphigus is apparently lower than reported in the literature, perhaps because of the contemporary use of adjuvant immunomodulatory therapeutic agents.