Interferon alpha for the treatment of melanocytic conjunctival lesions

Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol. 2010 Jan;248(1):111-5. doi: 10.1007/s00417-009-1189-0. Epub 2009 Sep 15.


Background: To evaluate the effect of topical interferon alpha-2b therapy in the treatment of melanocytic conjunctival lesions.

Design: Non-comparative prospective case series.

Methods: Nine patients with histologically proven acquired melanosis with atypia and/or conjunctival melanoma were treated with recombinant IFN alpha-2b (Intron A, Essex Pharma, Luzern, Switzerland). The agent was diluted under sterile conditions to one million international units per ml Intron A and packed in single-dose units (EDO) by the pharmacy. It was stored in the refrigerator and applied 5 x 1 drop/day topically by the patient for 6 weeks. The patients were seen after 2 weeks and after the end of the treatment. Endpoint of the treatment was the complete regression of pigmentation or absence of cytological atypia in a re-biopsy.

Results: Seven lesions of nine patients showed regression and lost pigmentation. Three patients required a second cycle after the first therapy because of incomplete regression and one patient needed a third cycle of interferon. Only one of the patients needed a fourth cycle of therapy and additional surgery to show stable regression. The follow-up is 24.8 months (median). No local or systemic side-effects were encountered. The pre- and post-treatment photos of two cases will be presented.

Conclusions: Our observations suggest that topical interferon alpha-2b might be an effective agent for the adjuvant treatment of melanocytic conjunctival tumors without side-effects. It might be an alternative to other more toxic chemotherapeutical agents. A prospective multicenter study will help to finally evaluate the potential of topical interferon therapy for melanocytic conjunctival tumors, in particular PAM with atypia and minimal invasive conjunctival melanoma.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Conjunctival Diseases / drug therapy
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Conjunctival Neoplasms / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha / administration & dosage*
  • Interferon-alpha / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Melanoma / drug therapy*
  • Melanoma / pathology
  • Melanosis / drug therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Interferon alpha-2
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Recombinant Proteins