Are Biologics Efficacious in Atopic Dermatitis? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Current systemic treatments for atopic dermatitis (AD) offer limited efficacy and are often restricted by safety concerns. Biologics may address the unmet need for improved AD therapeutics. Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of biologic agents in AD. Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating AD patients treated with biologics was performed. The primary outcome was the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI)-75 response, while secondary outcomes were SCOring Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD)-75, EASI-50, SCORAD-50, Investigator Global Assessment 0/1 responses, change in responses from baseline, and adverse events. Results: We included 13 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 10 observational studies evaluating nine biologics. High-quality evidence was available for dupilumab, nemolizumab and ustekinumab. Pooling five studies, at weeks 12–16 dupilumab 300 mg every week to every 2 weeks achieved EASI-75 responses of 55%, superior to placebo [relative risk (RR) 3.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.9–3.6]. Nemolizumab had similar EASI-75 responses as placebo, but significantly improved pruritus. In online reports, lebrikizumab demonstrated superior EASI-50 responses versus placebo (RR 1.3, 95% CI 1.04–1.7), while tralokinumab had superior SCORAD-50 responses versus placebo, with borderline significance (RR 1.7, 95% CI 0.97–3.1). In two RCTs each, omalizumab and ustekinumab were comparable with placebo, while antithymic stromal lymphopoietin receptor, infliximab, and rituximab lacked adequate evidence of efficacy. All medications had a comparable safety profile to placebo. Limitations: Lack of RCTs and the use of variable outcome measures limited conclusions. Conclusion: Dupilumab is currently the only biologic with robust evidence of efficacy in AD. Nemolizumab, lebrikizumab, and tralokinumab show promise but further data are needed. Longer follow-up and larger studies will establish their safety profile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-165
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Dermatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018


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