Systemic therapy for psoriasis and the risk of herpes zoster: A 500000 person-year study

Guy Shalom, Devy Zisman, Haim Bitterman, Ilana Harman-Boehm, Sari Greenberg-Dotan, Jacob Dreiher, Ilan Feldhamer, Hadas Moser, Ariel Hammerman, Yoram Cohen, Arnon D. Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


IMPORTANCE: The risk for herpes zoster (HZ) in patients with psoriasis treated with biologic medications or other systemic treatments has been given little attention to date. OBJECTIVE: To describe the risk for HZ in patients with psoriasis and its relation to treatment. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A cohort study was performed using the administrative database of Clalit Health Services, the largest public health care provider organization in Israel, in the setting of general community clinics, primary care and referral centers, and ambulatory and hospitalized care. We extracted information for all patients who received a psoriasis diagnosis from January 2002 to June 2013. Follow-up was conducted until the end of July 2013. The study included 95 941 patients with psoriasis in the analysis, with 522 616 person-years of follow-up. Incidence of HZ events was calculated for each systemic antipsoriatic medication provided, during a follow-up period of 11 years and 7 months. We used a generalized estimating equation Poisson regression model to examine the effect of each systemic treatment for psoriasis on HZ incidence, adjusting for age, sex, psoriasis severity, Charlson comorbidity index, steroid treatment, and socioeconomic status. MAINOUTCOMESAND MEASURES: Incidence of HZ associated with systemic therapies. RESULTS: In a multivariate analysis, it was observed that treatment with phototherapy (rate ratio [RR], 1.09 [95% CI, 0.62-1.93]; P=.99), methotrexate (RR, 0.98 [95% CI, 0.78-1.23]; P=.83), cyclosporine (RR, 1.16 [95% CI, 0.48-2.80]; P=.49), and biologic medications as a single agent (RR, 2.67 [95% CI, 0.69-10.3]; P=.14) was not associated with HZ. The use of combination treatment with biologic medications and methotrexate was significantly associated with an increased incidence of HZ (RR, 1.66 [95% CI, 1.08-2.57]; P=.02). The use of acitritin was associated with decreased incidence of HZ (RR, 0.69 [95% CI, 0.49-0.97]; P=.004). CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Physicians may need to consider offering an HZ preventive vaccine to patients receiving combination treatment with biologic medications and methotrexate, particularly if they have additional risk factors for HZ.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-538
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA Dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 May 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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