Treatment of pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • No optimal therapeutic approach has been established for pemphigus. Our objective was to evaluate the efficacy, steroid-sparing effect, and safety of available treatment modalities. PubMed, LILACS (up to July 2014), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL, issue 5 of 12, May 2014), and the registry and reference lists were searched for randomized controlled trials of any treatment modality for pemphigus vulgaris and pemphigus foliaceus. Data were extracted independently by two authors using predefined appraisal criteria and data fields. A total of 20 studies (826 participants) were included. Most were small and open-labeled; all but seven were not concealed for allocation. Owing to the variability in intervention arms, five meta-analyses were performed, each pooling the data of two to three trials. Studies excluded from the meta-analyses were described quantitatively. Azathioprine had a steroid-sparing effect but did not increase remission rate. Mycophenolate mofetil induced sustained remission more quickly than did placebo and delayed time to relapse but did not have a steroid-sparing effect or favorable remission rate. Cyclophosphamide had a steroid-sparing effect, though less than azathioprine, but did not affect the remission rate or time-to-disease control. Intravenous immunoglobulin had more favorable short-term efficacy than did placebo. Topical epidermal growth factor hastened lesion healing. Although some of the available therapeutic modalities for pemphigus are beneficial in terms of steroid-sparing, hastening response, or delaying relapse, none were found to increase the complete response rate compared with glucocorticoids alone, currently the mainstay of treatment. Multicenter randomized controlled trials and case control studies with uniform outcome measures are warranted.

publication date

  • January 1, 2014