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Tacrolimus for the management of psoriasis: clinical utility and place in therapy

Authors Malecic N, Young H

Received 12 July 2016

Accepted for publication 18 October 2016

Published 7 December 2016 Volume 2016:6 Pages 153—163

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PTT.S101233

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Amy Norman

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Uwe Wollina


Nina Malecic,1,2 Helen Young2

1Manchester Medical School, 2The Dermatology Research Centre, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, UK

Abstract: Psoriasis affects 1%–3% of the population in the United Kingdom and can convey significant detriment to the physical and mental health of sufferers. Plaques of psoriasis typically affect the extensor skin surfaces and scalp. Less frequently inverse psoriasis can affect more sensitive skin such as the face, genitals, and intertriginous areas. Psoriasis is incurable, but there are a range of treatment modalities that can be used to manage the condition. Treatment options include topical preparations, phototherapy, systemic therapy, and biological agents. Tacrolimus is a macrolide calcineurin inhibitor licensed for immunosuppression in transplant patients and topical administration in atopic dermatitis. Tacrolimus administered orally and in topical form has been shown to produce successful outcomes in patients with psoriasis. Topical tacrolimus is particularly effective for inverse psoriasis, which is likely to be due to the reduced level of induration seen in these psoriatic lesions, which allows greater skin penetrance, compared with hyperkeratotic plaques of psoriasis on the body. It is also notable that the areas affected by inverse psoriasis are more susceptible to adverse effects of topical corticosteroid therapy, and thus a topical preparation without the risk of skin atrophy, telangiectasia, and striae could be a valuable addition to current topical treatment options. Oral tacrolimus has shown efficacy in the treatment of severe, refractory psoriasis. Compared to ciclosporin, systemic tacrolimus may be more suited to a patient population with increased cardiovascular risk. This review will draw together the current literature on topical and oral tacrolimus for the treatment of psoriasis. Efficacy and safety have been evaluated by case reports and randomized controlled trials and comparisons have been made between tacrolimus therapy and standard treatment.

Keywords: tacrolimus, psoriasis, topical therapy, oral treatment

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