Background: Recently, therapy of rosacea with inflammatory lesions (papulopustular) has improved substantially with the approval of topical ivermectin 1% cream. It is assumed to have a dual mode of action with anti-inflammatory capacities and anti-parasitic effects against Demodex, which however has not yet been demonstrated in vivo.
Aim: To find scientific rationale for the dual anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic mode of action of topical ivermectin 1% cream in patients with rosacea.
Methods: A monocentric pilot study was performed including 20 caucasion patients with moderate to severe rosacea, as assessed by investigator global assessment (IGA score ≥3) and a Demodex density ≥15/cm2 . Patients were treated with topical ivermectin 1% cream once daily (Soolantra® ) for ≥12 weeks. The density of Demodex mites was assessed with skin surface biopsies. Expression of inflammatory and immune markers was evaluated with RT-PCR and by immunofluorescence staining.
Results: The mean density of mites was significantly decreased at week 6 and week 12 (P < 0.001). The gene expression levels of IL-8, LL-37, HBD3, TLR4 and TNF-α were downregulated at both time points. Reductions in gene expression were significant for LL-37, HBD3 and TNF-α at both follow-up time points and at week 12 for TLR4 (all P < 0.05). Reduced LL-37 expression (P < 0.05) and IL-8 expression were confirmed on the protein level by immunofluorescence staining. All patients improved clinically, and 16 of 20 patients reached therapeutic success defined as IGA score ≤1.
Conclusion: Topical ivermectin 1% cream acts by a dual, anti-inflammatory and anti-parasitic mode of action against rosacea by killing Demodex spp. in vivo, in addition to significantly improving clinical signs and symptoms in the skin.
© 2017 European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.