A randomized clinical trial of topical dexamethasone vs. cyclosporine treatment for oral lichen planus

Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal. 2021 Sep 25:25040. doi: 10.4317/medoral.25040. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Oral lichen planus (OLP) is a common, frequently symptomatic, immune-mediated disease. Various treatments have been used for symptomatic OLP, including corticosteroids and immunosuppressants administered topically or systemically. The aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of topical dexamethasone vs. topical cyclosporine in treatment of symptomatic OLP.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: Thirty-two patients with biopsy-proven symptomatic OLP were randomly assigned to two therapeutic groups: dexamethasone 2mg/5ml or cyclosporine 100mg/ml, both administered topically in a swish and spit method three times a day for 4 weeks. The patients were followed up for a total of 6 months. Assessed parameters included clinical scoring (according to Thongprasom's scale, 0-5), pain (VAS scale, 0-10), dysphagia and speech difficulties (none, mild or severe). Possible side effects, including fungal overgrowth, were also recorded.

RESULTS: At the end of the 4-week treatment period, both dexamethasone and cyclosporine showed a statistically significant improvement in clinical scoring (p<0.025 and p=0.034, respectively), which was better with dexamethasone (p=0.001). In addition, both dexamethasone and cyclosporine induced statistical significant improvement in pain and dysphagia (and speech difficulties for dexamethasone), without significant differences between the two groups. Regarding side effects, patients in the dexamethasone group developed candidiasis more frequently compared to cyclosporine (p=0.031). At the end of the 6-month follow-up period, the difference in response between the two groups was not statistically significant. Interestingly, a trend for further improvement compared with the end of the 4-week treatment period was noticed only for patients treated with cyclosporine.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite the small number of enrolled patients, topical cyclosporine treatment induces a significant clinical improvement in symptomatic OLP patients, which, compared to topical dexamethasone, appears to be less pronounced during initial administration, but capable to induce further improvement after discontinuation with a satisfactory long-term remission in the absence of significant side effects. This study may contribute to a better understanding of the differences in effectiveness of OLP topical treatments and guide future larger scale clinical trials.

PMID:34564686 | DOI:10.4317/medoral.25040