Background. Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin that can be refractory to topical and systemic corticosteroids, phototherapy, topical immunomodulators and systemic immunosuppressive drugs. Recent studies have shown promise for the use of mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) to treat recalcitrant AD. Aim. To assess the effectiveness and adverse effects of MMF used for moderate to severe AD in a university outpatient dermatology clinic. Methods. A retrospective chart review of 20 patient charts was conducted for patient age, gender, duration of disease, prior therapies, concomitant therapy, clinical response and adverse side-effects. Results. Of the 20 patients, 17 improved within 4 weeks of starting MMF therapy. Ten patients had disease remission and were subsequently able to discontinue MMF. Seven attained satisfactory control of their AD using MMF as maintenance therapy. Overall, MMF was well tolerated, with mild headaches, gastrointestinal complaints and fatigue as the commonest side-effects. During therapy, herpes zoster developed in four patients, Staphylococcus aureus cutaneous infections in two, and herpes simplex in one. One patient discontinued MMF because of insufficient control of pruritus. Conclusion. MMF can be rapidly effective and well tolerated in patients with moderate to severe AD resistant to conventional therapies. The limitations of this retrospective study include no control group and a lack of a standardized scoring index to assess improvement, and the concomitant use of adjuvant therapies makes the contribution of MMF alone difficult to assess. Larger controlled studies are needed.
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