Oral lichenoid eruption secondary to imatinib (Glivec)

J Dermatolog Treat. 2004 Jul;15(4):253-5. doi: 10.1080/09546630410015556.


Background: Oral lichenoid drug eruption (OLE) is a self-restricted inflammatory condition usually secondary to a variety of drugs and dental materials (mercury, gold), and rarely to immunomodulators and new antineoplastic agents such as imatinib mesylate (Glivec). OLE clinical features are reminiscent of lichen planus and include symmetric and asymptomatic, erythematous, reticulated and painful ulcerated plaques. Histological examination reveals perivascular lymphocytic infiltrate and the presence of eosinophils that obscures the dermal-epidermal junction, with acanthosis and mild hyperkeratosis.

Methods: A 62-year-old man was treated with Glivec for metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST).

Results: The patient presented with grey-violaceous plaques on both cheek mucosal surfaces and the lateral sides of the tongue and labial mucosa, with a reticular pattern resembling oral lichen planus. These lesions appeared approximately 1 year after therapy and partially subsided in about 10 weeks, to clear after topical corticosteroids and oral omeprazole. The diagnosis of OLE induced by imatinib was confirmed by histological biopsy evaluation; immunohistochemical analysis revealed intense immunoreactivity with only cytokeratins 5/6 and 14 in the epithelium of affected mucosa. All laboratory investigations proved asiderotic anaemia but excluded infectious causes.

Conclusion: It is believed that this patient developed imatinib-induced OLE; this relationship with therapy rather than the underlying disease rules out a paraneoplastic reaction, and negative immunofluorescence excluded autoimmune dermatosis. In addition, we propose that these lesions are correlated with abnormal expression of some cytokeratins directly caused by this drug.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Benzamides
  • Drug Eruptions / etiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / chemically induced*
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / diagnosis
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Mouth Diseases / diagnosis
  • Mouth Diseases / therapy
  • Piperazines / adverse effects*
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Protein-Tyrosine Kinases