CNS involvement occurs more frequently in patients with Behçet's disease under cyclosporin A (CSA) than under other medications--results of a retrospective analysis of 117 cases

Clin Rheumatol. 2006 Jul;25(4):482-6. doi: 10.1007/s10067-005-0070-8. Epub 2005 Nov 1.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the incidence of neurological manifestations of Behçet's disease (BD) in patients on cyclosporin A (CSA) compared with those on other medications. The records of 117 patients with BD who visited our hospital between 1990 and 2003 were reviewed with respect to symptoms and medication. All episodes of constant therapy prior to central nervous system (CNS) involvement were counted, and then the associations were analysed by the exact Fisher-Freeman-Halton test and adjusted for multiple tests by the Bonferroni-Holm method. We observed ten new cases of CNS manifestations in our patients with BD being regularly seen and treated in our tertiary care centre. The overall prevalence of neuro-BD in our patient group was 8.5%. In a retrospective analysis, the incidence of new-onset neurological disease (neuro-BD) in all patients with BD who regularly visited our hospital was significantly higher in patients on CSA than in those on other medications (6 of 21 vs 0 of 175 episodes, P<0.0001). This contrasts the obvious efficacy of CSA on extracerebral manifestations of BD, such as severe ocular disease, mucocutaneous lesions or arthritis. CSA exerts differential efficacy on various manifestations of BD. It is very effective for severe ocular and other moderate to severe manifestations of BD, but its efficacy for the prevention of neuro-BD seems to be inferior to that of other medications used in BD, such as azathioprine or interferon-alpha. The reasons for this are unclear, but the potential toxic effects of CSA on the CNS may be a predisposing factor for CNS vasculitis in BD.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Autonomic Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use*
  • Behcet Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Behcet Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Behcet Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Comorbidity
  • Cyclosporine / adverse effects*
  • Disease Progression
  • Eye Diseases / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects*
  • Incidence
  • Interferon-alpha / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Cyclosporine
  • Azathioprine