We describe a patient with pyoderma gangrenosum (PG) whose lesions responded to etanercept therapy. This disease has been recognized for diverse underlying pathology and associated immune disturbances. Although the role of cytokines in pathogenesis is not fully understood, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) may facilitate induction and maintenance of the disease. This is supported by the successful use of infliximab, a recombinant anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody, in cases of PG associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Etanercept is a divalent recombinant fusion protein that binds soluble TNF-alpha. To our knowledge, the utility of etanercept for PG has not been reported. A patient with recalcitrant and widespread PG that was unresponsive to systemic corticosteroids was treated with etanercept. Rapid and complete clearing of the skin lesions was observed, and steroid taper to 5 mg/day was sustained for two months. Treatment was well-tolerated with no adverse reactions reported.
Conclusions: Etanercept therapy offered rapid and complete resolution of all PG lesions. Such response supports the use of etanercept as a steroid-sparing agent in recalcitrant disease and suggests the role of TNF-alpha in pathogenesis of PG.