Background: Bexarotene, a novel and unique synthetic P, RXR-selective retinoid, is available as a treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. In psoriasis, a common retinoid-sensitive disease, no data are available on bexarotene treatment.
Objective: In this phase II study we investigated the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of bexarotene in psoriasis at doses of 0.5 to 3.0 mg/kg/day.
Methods: Fifty patients with moderate to severe plaque-type psoriasis were treated with bexarotene in 4 sequential dose-defined panels of 12-13 patients at doses of 1.0, 2.0, 0.5, and 3.0 mg/kg/day for 12-24 weeks. Patients were monitored for safety and clinical efficacy.
Results: No serious adverse events related to the drug occurred. Bexarotene was well tolerated in most patients. Most frequently observed adverse events related to bexarotene were hypertriglyceridaemia (56%) and a decrease in free T4 serum levels (54%). Significant improvement of psoriasis after bexarotene at all doses was confirmed by a modified psoriasis area and severity index (mPASI), plaque elevation (PEL), and physician's global assessment (PGA). Overall response rates (> or =50% improvement) for mPASI, PEL, and PGA were 22%, 52%, and 36%, respectively. No significant dose-response effect was established for these parameters.
Conclusion: The present study indicates an anti-psoriatic effect of bexarotene. Further studies are necessary to assess the optimal dose and the potential for bexarotene as a new therapy for psoriasis.