Efficacy and safety of systemic methotrexate vs. acitretin in psoriasis patients with significant palmoplantar involvement: a prospective, randomized study


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A.J. Kanwar. E-mail:ajkanwar1948@gmail.com


Background  Palmoplantar psoriasis (PP) is a chronic, inflammatory and proliferative dermatosis of the palms and/or soles with significant morbidity. It is notoriously difficult to treat and unresponsive to traditional topical agents.

Material and methods  This was a prospective, randomized study involving 111 patients of psoriasis with significant palmoplantar disease. Patients meeting the eligibility criteria were randomly assigned to one of the two treatment groups. Patients in Group I received methotrexate in doses of 0.4 mg/kg weekly, and patients in Group II received acitretin in doses of 0.5 mg/kg daily. Patients were evaluated by modified PPPASI (m-PPPASI) score for palm and sole involvement at baseline, at two weekly intervals for the first 4 weeks and then four weekly for next 8 weeks. Treatment protocol was continued for a period till patient achieved 75% reduction in m-PPPASI from baseline or 12 weeks whichever was earlier.

Results  There was a statistically significant difference in reduction of m-PPPASI of patients on methotrexate at weeks 8 and 12. The mean m-PPPASI at week 8 was 15.38 ± 6.08 in methotrexate group and 17.23 ± 5.25 in acitretin group (= 0.04). The mean m-PPPASI at week 12 was 10.30 ± 5.97 in methotrexate group and 12.40 ± 5.31 in acitretin group (= 0.03). Marked improvement (m-PPPASI 75) was achieved in 12 (24%) patients in methotrexate group compared with 4 (8%) in acitretin group which was statistically significant (= 0.029). Adverse events were generally mild and were seen in 14 patients in methotrexate group and 15 patients in acitretin group (= 0.080).

Conclusion  Methotrexate is relatively inexpensive, safe and efficacious drug for the treatment of psoriasis patients with significant palmoplantar involvement. Acitretin can be used as an alternative therapy and with a good safety profile.