Thalidomide for chronic sarcoidosis

Robert P. Baughman, Marc A. Judson, Alvin S. Teirstein, David R. Moller, Elyse E. Lower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

181 Scopus citations


Study objectives: Thalidomide therapy has been shown to modify granulomatous diseases, such as tuberculosis and leprosy. Lupus pernio is a skin manifestation of sarcoidosis that does not remit spontaneously, and was used as a marker of efficacy of thalidomide for sarcoidosis. Design: An open-label, dose-escalation trial of thalidomide. Setting: Patients were seen at one of four specialized sarcoidosis clinics in the United States. Patients: Fifteen patients with lupus pernio and other manifestations of sarcoidosis unresponsive to prior therapy were enrolled. Interventions: Skin lesions were assessed with visual examination by the treating physician, and photographic evaluation by a blinded panel of physicians reviewing photographs of the lesions before and after therapy. Measurements and results: Fourteen patients completed 4 months of therapy. All patients experienced some improvement in their skin lesions subjectively, and 10 of 12 evaluable patients showed improvement using photograph scoring. Five patients were better after 1 month (treated with 50 mg/d of thalidomide), seven more patients improved after 2 months (treated with 100 mg/d of thalidomide in the second month), and two patients required an additional month of 200 mg of thalidomide to achieve a response. Patients reported increased somnolence (n = 9), numbness (n = 7), dizziness (n = 2), constipation (n = 6), rash (n = 1), and increasing shortness of breath (n = 1). One patient discontinued therapy because of new-onset dyspnea, due to probably unrelated new-onset congestive heart failure. Conclusion: Thalidomide was an effective form of treatment for chronic cutaneous sarcoidosis. The drug was well tolerated and may be a useful alternative to systemic corticosteroids.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-232
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2002


  • Corticosteroids
  • Lupus pernio
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Thalidomide
  • Tumor necrosis factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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