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Abstract

Background

Cyclophosphamide has been commonly used for the treatment of pemphigus vulgaris and mucous membrane pemphigoid with satisfactory results. Published data of this therapeutic approach for bullous pemphigoid are scant and showed significant morbidity and mortality.

Objective

To assess the clinical efficacy and safety of low-dose oral cyclophosphamide (CFM) (50–100 mg/day) in patients with refractory bullous pemphigoid.

Methods

We conducted a retrospective study including patients with bullous pemphigoid treated with CFM in the department of Dermatology in the Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, Spain.

Results

Complete response was observed in 11 (58%) over 19 evaluable patients. Cyclophosphamide at 50 mg/day was enough to achieve clinical remission in eight of these patients. Partial response was observed in four (21%) more patients. Bone marrow suppression appeared in 12 (60%) patients, but treatment discontinuation was only required in three (15%) cases. Gastrointestinal intolerance occurred in one (5%) patient. One patient died during therapy from heart failure (not attributed to CFM) and another patient developed acute myeloid leukaemia 1.5 years after CFM therapy.

Conclusions

In our series, CFM had a marked therapeutic effect in bullous pemphigoid. These results of efficacy are similar to those described in other autoimmune blistering skin diseases. Only a few patients had to discontinue their treatment due to adverse effects. Therefore, we consider that low-dose oral CFM can be valuable therapeutic alternative in elderly patients with moderate-to-severe bullous pemphigoid.