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Immunomodulation and safety of topical calcineurin inhibitors for the treatment of atopic dermatitis



Immunomodulation and safety of topical calcineurin inhibitors for the treatment of atopic dermatitis



Dermatology 211(2): 174-187



Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic or chronically relapsing inflammatory skin condition that primarily affects children. Topical corticosteroids have been the mainstay of treatment since the late 1950s. While providing excellent short-term efficacy, topical corticosteroid usage is limited by potential adverse effects, including impairment of the function and viability of Langerhans cells/dendritic cells. The recently introduced topical calcineurin inhibitors pimecrolimus cream 1% (Elidel) and tacrolimus ointment 0.03 and 0.1% (Protopic) exhibit a more selective mechanism of action and do not affect Langerhans cells/dendritic cells. For the immune system of young children 'learning' to mount a balanced Th1/Th2 response, this selective effect has particular benefits. In clinical experience, topical calcineurin inhibitors have been shown to be a safe and effective alternative to topical corticosteroids in almost 7 million patients (>5 million on pimecrolimus; >1.7 million on tacrolimus). Topical pimecrolimus is primarily used in children with mild and moderate AD, whereas tacrolimus is used preferentially in more severe cases. None of the topical calcineurin inhibitors have been associated with systemic immunosuppression-related malignancies known to occur following long-term sustained systemic immunosuppression with oral immunosuppressants (e.g., tacrolimus, cyclosporine A, and corticosteroids) in transplant patients. Preclinical and clinical data suggest a greater skin selectivity and larger safety margin for topical pimecrolimus.

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Accession: 012181168

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 16088174

DOI: 10.1159/000086739


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