Objective: To investigate the effectiveness and feasibility of extracorporeal photochemotherapy (ECP) in the treatment of an autoimmune disease with known cutaneous photosensitivity.
Methods: Ten patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) were treated with ECP in an open clinical trial. The efficacy of treatment was analyzed by means of established disease activity scores.
Results: Eight patients completed the trial. In 7 of the 8, there was a significant response to the treatment, with no or minor side effects. The clinical activity score in the group of 8 patients decreased from a median of 7 (range 4-9) to a median of 1 (range 0-5) (P less than 0.05). Laboratory abnormalities did not change significantly, but were mild at the outset.
Conclusion: ECP led to clinical improvement of SLE without side effects. The effectiveness of this method should be investigated further in controlled clinical trials.