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BACKGROUND: Subacute cutaneous lupus erythematosus (SCLE) lacks consensus diagnostic criteria and the pathogenesis is poorly understood. There are increasing reports of SCLE induced by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), but there are limited data on the aetiology, clinical characteristics and natural course of this disease. METHODS: We devised a set of diagnostic criteria for SCLE in collaboration with a multinational, multispecialty panel. This systematic review employed a two-layered search strategy of five databases for cases of mAb-induced SCLE (PROSPERO registered protocol CRD42019116521). To explore the relationship between relative mAb use and the number of SCLE cases reported, the estimated number of mAb users was modelled from 2013 to 2018 global commercial data and estimated annual therapy costs. RESULTS: From 40 papers, we identified 52 cases of mAb-induced SCLE, occurring in a cohort that was 73% female and with a median age of 61 years. Fifty percent of cases were induced by anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-ɑ agents. A median of three drug doses preceded SCLE onset and the lesions lasted a median of 7 weeks after drug cessation. Oral and topical corticosteroids were most frequently used. Of the licensed mAbs, adalimumab, denosumab, rituximab, etanercept and infliximab were calculated to have the highest relative number of yearly users based on global sales data. Comparing the number of mAb-induced SCLE cases with estimated yearly users, the checkpoint inhibitors pembrolizumab and nivolumab showed strikingly high rates of SCLE relative to their global use, but ipilimumab did not. CONCLUSION: We present the first systematic review characterising mAb-induced SCLE with respect to triggers, clinical signs, laboratory findings, prognosis and treatment approaches. We identify elevated rates associated with the use of checkpoint inhibitors and anti-TNFɑ agents.

Original publication




Journal article


Drugs R D

Publication Date





319 - 330


Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humans, Immunologic Factors, International Cooperation, Lupus Erythematosus, Cutaneous, Prognosis, Treatment Outcome