Oral lichen planus: update on etiopathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment

Immunopharmacol Immunotoxicol. 2011 Mar;33(1):11-20. doi: 10.3109/08923973.2010.498014. Epub 2010 Jul 6.


Lichen planus is an inflammatory mucocutaneous disorder. Skin, oral and genital mucosal surfaces, scalp, and nails can be affected. Its development is chronic, with a possible malignant degeneration. Spontaneous remission is rare. Although the etiology of oral lichen planus is still unclear, there is evidence that it is a complex immunologic disease mediated by cytotoxic cells directed against basilar keratinocytes and resulting in vacuolar degeneration and lysis of basal cells. In long-standing, atrophic and erosive forms, the treatment is usually aimed at relieving pain and may include immunosuppressive agents, especially corticosteroid, topical cyclosporin, or tacrolimus, topical and systemic retinoids. However, the use of these drugs may be accompanied by several side effects. For this reason clinicians, currently, have focused their attention to new biological agents which provide selective immunological results with less side effects than generic immunosupressants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Lichen Planus, Oral* / diagnosis
  • Lichen Planus, Oral* / drug therapy
  • Lichen Planus, Oral* / etiology
  • Mouth Mucosa / immunology*
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome