BACKGROUND. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte–mediated (CTL-mediated) severe cutaneous adverse reactions (SCARs), including Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), are rare but life-threatening adverse reactions commonly induced by drugs. Although high levels of CTL-associated cytokines, chemokines, or cytotoxic proteins, including TNF-α and granulysin, were observed in SJS-TEN patients in recent studies, the optimal treatment for these diseases remains controversial. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and therapeutic mechanism of a TNF-α antagonist in CTL-mediated SCARs. METHODS. We enrolled 96 patients with SJS-TEN in a randomized trial to compare the effects of the TNF-α antagonist etanercept versus traditional corticosteroids. RESULTS. Etanercept improved clinical outcomes in patients with SJS-TEN. Etanercept decreased the SCORTEN-based predicted mortality rate (predicted and observed rates, 17.7% and 8.3%, respectively). Compared with corticosteroids, etanercept further reduced the skin-healing time in moderate-to-severe SJS-TEN patients (median time for skin healing was 14 and 19 days for etanercept and corticosteroids, respectively; P = 0.010), with a lower incidence of gastrointestinal hemorrhage in all SJS-TEN patients (2.6% for etanercept and 18.2% for corticosteroids; P = 0.03). In the therapeutic mechanism study, etanercept decreased the TNF-α and granulysin secretions in blister fluids and plasma (45.7%–62.5% decrease after treatment; all P < 0.05) and increased the Treg population (2-fold percentage increase after treatment; P = 0.002), which was related to mortality in severe SJS-TEN. CONCLUSIONS. The anti–TNF-α biologic agent etanercept serves as an effective alternative for the treatment of CTL-mediated SCARs. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01276314. FUNDING. Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan.


Chuang-Wei Wang, Lan-Yan Yang, Chun-Bing Chen, Hsin-Chun Ho, Shuen-Iu Hung, Chih-Hsun Yang, Chee-Jen Chang, Shih-Chi Su, Rosaline Chung-Yee Hui, See-Wen Chin, Li-Fang Huang, Yang Yu-Wei Lin, Wei-Yang Chang, Wen-Lang Fan, Chin-Yi Yang, Ji-Chen Ho, Ya-Ching Chang, Chun-Wei Lu, Wen-Hung Chung, and the Taiwan Severe Cutaneous Adverse Reaction (TSCAR) Consortium


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