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GIORNALE ITALIANO DI DERMATOLOGIA E VENEREOLOGIA

A Journal on Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Official Journal of the Italian Society of Dermatology and Sexually Transmitted Diseases
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Giornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia 1999 February;134(1):17-26

language: Italian

Thalidomide in dermatology. A review

Nasca M. R., Micali G.

Università degli Studi - Catania, Clinica Dermatologica


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Thalidomide is a synthetic derivative of glutamic acid that was withdrawn from the market in the early 1960s because it revealed to be a potent teratogen. It has hypnosedative, anti-angiogenic, anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory properties. Moreover, it has proven to selectively inhibit in a dose-dependent fashion the production of TNF-α by human blood monocytes and to reduce the expression of many integrin receptors and other surface markers on the membrane of leukocytes and other cell types. Large controlled trials proving the therapeutic efficacy of thalidomide have been performed only in a limited number of diseases, including erythema nodosum leprosum, lupus erythematosus, aphthosis, graft-versus-host disease, prurigo nodularis, and actinic prurigo. Single case reports or studies in small series, however, have shown that thalidomide has good therapeutic effect in several other dermatologic and non dermatologic disorders. In spite of its potential side effects, namely teratogenicity and neurotoxicity, thalidomide proved to be effective in severe disabling conditions in which other treatments have failed. The development of new thalidomide derivatives that are safer and much more selectively active than the parent molecule is the final goal of future research studies.

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