Acitretin therapy is effective for associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection

Laura Buccheri, Bradford R. Katchen, Andrew J. Karter, Steven R. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the safety, tolerability, and effectiveness of a newer retinoid, acitretin, as mono-therapy for psoriasis associated with human immunodeficiency virus infection (PS-HIV). Design: Pilot investigation. Setting: An academic medical center. Patients: Eleven patients selected from volunteers with PS-HIV were enrolled in a 20-week treatment protocol. Two patients discontinued participation in the study because of worsening psoriasis; a third patient was unable to continue treatment after having a myocardial infarction, presumably unrelated to acitretin therapy. Intervention: Each patient received an optimized dose of acitretin during the period of observation. Clinical and laboratory assessments were performed every 2 weeks during the trial. Main Outcome Measures: The Psoriasis Area and Severity Index was used to assess the clinical response to treatment. To monitor for toxic drug effects, a panel of laboratory parameters, including complete blood cell count, biochemistry profile, urinalysis, HLA typing, skin biopsy for histological examination, and T-cell counts, was performed. Results: Six (54%) of 11 patients with PS-HIV achieved good to excellent responses using acitretin mono-therapy. Four patients (36%) achieved complete clearing. There was no evidence of a correlation between the pretreatment measures of immunosuppression and the therapeutic response. Parameters of immunosuppression were not exacerbated by acitretin therapy. Conclusions: Acitretin is a safe and effective treatment for PS-HIV. Both skin and joint manifestations of PS-HIV responded to acitretin therapy in most patients. Optimal results were achieved with a dose of 75 mg/d. The adverse effects were moderate and well tolerated. Acitretin does not appear to have immunosuppressive properties. A formal randomized clinical trial is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)711-715
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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