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Year : 2000  |  Volume : 66  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 73-75

An open trial of pentoxifylline in schamberg's disease

Correspondence Address:
Leishiowon Kumrah

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 20877031

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Fifteen patients with Schamberg's disease were enrolled in the study. Each patient was given 400mg of pentoxifylline once a day for 8 weeks. Skin biopsy was done in 6 patients to document the disease. Pretreatment and post treatment evaluation were made. There was no objective improvement in any of the patients though 4 reported subjective improvement in their pigmentation.

Keywords: Pentoxifylline, Schamberg′s disease, Purpura progressive pigmentary

How to cite this article:
Kumrah L, George R, George S. An open trial of pentoxifylline in schamberg's disease. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol 2000;66:73-5

How to cite this URL:
Kumrah L, George R, George S. An open trial of pentoxifylline in schamberg's disease. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol [serial online] 2000 [cited 2020 May 25];66:73-5. Available from: http://www.ijdvl.com/text.asp?2000/66/2/73/4873

  Introduction Top

Schamberg's disease is a common disease and can occur at any age. The lesions can occur any­where but are more frequent on the lower limbs. They may be a few or extensive. Clinically, the le­sions present as irregualr areas of orange or brown pigmentation due to deposition of hemosiderin. It is usually asymptomatic although itching may occur sometimes. It is a chronic disease and may persist for years. The eruption may show extensions at the periphery with clearing of the old lesions. Spontane­ous cure has been reported. [1] No therapy has been found to be consistently effective. Pentoxifylline has been tried in various inflammatory diseases such as urticarial vasculitis, leucocytoclastic vasculitis, apht­hous stomatitis and contact dermatitis. It was first tried in 1994 by Wahba-Yahav et al [2] for a patient with Schamberg's disease associated with persistent hepatitis B antigenemia. Subsequently, Kano et al [3] tried pentoxifylline given at the dose of 400mg once a day for 8 weeks.

  Materials and Methods Top

Fifteen patients with Schamberg's disease seen in the Dermatology outpatient department dur­ing November `97 - July '98, were included in the study. Skin biopsies were done to document the di­agnosis whenever possible. The history and exami­nation findings recorded in all patients included ba­sic demographic data, duration of symptoms, pres­ence or absence of itching and drug history. Exami­nation findings included morphology of the lesions, extent of lesions and presence or absence of vari­cose veins.

Exclusion criteria included all patients with (1) severe coronary artery disease (2) acute myocaridal infarction (3) history of massive retinal haemorrhage (4) renal impairment and (5) pregnancy.

  Results Top

Fifteen patients (12 males and 3 females) were enrolled into the study [Table - 1]. Eight (53.3%) patients, 6 males and 2 females completed the study. Of the remaining 7 patients, 6 males (40%) com­pleted 4 weeks of treatment and 1 patient took 2 weeks of treatment. The duration of the disease ranged from 11-58 years. (Mean 31.3 years). None of the patients had varicose veins. Skin biopsy at first visit was done in 6 patients. There was no ob­jective improvement in any of the patients. How­ever, at the end of 8 weeks, 2 (25%) of the 8 pa­tients reported subjective improvement in the pig­mentation. One patient reported a decrease in 50% while the second patient reported 75% decrease in the pigmentation. Of the 6 patients who completed 4 weeks of pentoxifylline, 2 (33%) reported subjec­tive improvement while the other reported 60% im­provement in the skin colour. The rest of the pa­tients reported only mild decrease in the pigmen­tation, except for 3, who said that there was no change in the pigmentation. None of the patients reported new lesions during the study period.

  Discussion Top

In Schamberg's disease, Langerhans cells have been postulated to play an important role and that cellular immune reactions take place in the lesional skin. [4] It was recently suggested by Driesch et all that the interaction between lymphocyte func­tion antigen (LFA) -1 on T cells and intercellular cell adhesion molecule I (ICAM-I) on endothelial cells contributes to the entry of the inflammatory cells into the skin. An active role of T cells was also indicated in these conditions by Burrows et al. [6]

The role of pentoxifylline in Schamberg's dis­ease is still speculative. Pentoxifylline inhibits the production of macrophage and keratinocyte - de­rived cytokines such as TNF-alpha, IL -I and IL-6. [7] It is also known to inhibit the adhesion of leuko­cytes and monocytes to endothelial cells. It also

blocks the phytohaemagglutinin-induced IL-2 re­ceptor expression by lymphocytes. [8] Kano et a1 [3] tried pentoxifylline in 3 patients with Schamberg's disease. The duration of the lesions in those 3 patients ranged from 3 months to 1 year. Pentoxifylline was given at a dose of 100mg 3 times a day for 8 weeks. Clinical response was seen at 2-3 weeks and complete clear­ance occurred at 4 weeks. The patients were fol­lowed up for 4-7 months. One patient, whose dura­tion of disease was 1 year and showed recurrence after 4 months, was given retreatment and the le­sions resolved in 2 weeks time with no recurrence thereafter.

They postulated that the mode of action of pentoxifylline on Schamberg's disease could be by inhibiting the exocytosis of lymphocytes to the epi­dermis. However, in our study, pentoxifylline has no significant effect on Schamberg's disease. Although, a subjective improvement was reported by 4 (26%) of 15 patients on treatment, there was no objective improvement after treatment. None showed any change in the pigmentation. There were no new le­sions in any of the patients during the study period. The apparent failure in treatment could be because hyperpigmentation takes longer to fade on pigmented skin and subtle changes in pigmentation are more difficult to detect. Further, higher doses i.e 400mg of pentoxifylline 3 times a day have been prescribed with therapeutic benefit and no untoward effects.' Larger controlled trials are required to determine the optimum dose and duration of treatment in Indian patients.

  References Top

1.Champion RH. Purpura. In: Champion H, Burton JL, Ebling FJG. Text book of Dermatology. 5th Ed. Blackwell Scientific publications, 1992;1:1888-1889.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Wahba - Yahav AV. Schamberg's purpura: association with per­sistent hepatitis B surface antigenemia and treatment with pentoxifylline. Cutis 1994; 54:205-1.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Kano Y, Hirayana K, Onihara M et al. Successful treatment of Schamberg's disease with pentoxifylline. J Am Acad Dermatol (Suppl) 1997; 36: 827-830.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Aiba S, Tagami H. Immunohistologic studies in Schamberg's dis­ease: evidence for cellular immune reaction in lesional skin. Arch Dermatol 1988:124:1058-1062.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Vod den Driesch P, Simon M, Jr. Cellular adhesion antigen modu­lation in purpura pigmentosa chronica. 3 Am Acad Dermatol 1994; 30 : 193-200.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Burrows NP, Jones R. Cell adhesion molecule expression in capillaritis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1994; 131:826.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Ely H. Is pentoxifylline the drug of the decade? J Am Acad Dermatol 1994; 30: 639-640.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Rao KMK, Curie MS, McCachren SS, et al. Pentoxifylline and other methyl xanthines inhibit interleukin - 2 receptor expression in hu­man lymphocytes. Immunology 1991; 135: 314-325.  Back to cited text no. 8    


[Table - 1]


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