Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery
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   Table of Contents     
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 167-168
Overview of medical therapies and phototherapy in vitiligo based on their pathogenetic action and the role of platelet-rich plasma

Department of Dermatology, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, New Delhi, India

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Date of Web Publication4-Feb-2019

How to cite this article:
Sardana K, Verma G. Overview of medical therapies and phototherapy in vitiligo based on their pathogenetic action and the role of platelet-rich plasma. J Cutan Aesthet Surg 2018;11:167-8

How to cite this URL:
Sardana K, Verma G. Overview of medical therapies and phototherapy in vitiligo based on their pathogenetic action and the role of platelet-rich plasma. J Cutan Aesthet Surg [serial online] 2018 [cited 2020 Oct 26];11:167-8. Available from:

Numerous medical therapies have been tried in vitiligo with varying results, depending on the age, site, type, extent, duration of vitiligo, stability of disease, and its disease activity.[1],[2] But only nonsurgical therapies can address the varied pathogenetic aspects of vitiligo. In fact, as can be seen in [Table 1], agents [narrow band ultraviolet rays - B (NBUVB), psoralens and ultraviolet rays - A (PUVA)] that work on multiple steps have a higher efficacy and lower relapse rates.[8] A plethora of novel medical therapies is available with some having remarkable scientific basis but the in vivo results belie the hopes that the original researchers claim. A classic example is afamelanotide, which does not address the autoimmune aspects of the disease and hence does not achieve long-lasting or satisfactory results.[9] In the din of novel nonmedical therapies, platelet-rich plasma (PRP) had been tried earlier with unsatisfactory results. A recent trial combining it with NBUVB found better results, but NBUVB itself has superlative results and most clinicians are wary of studies where combinations of a superior mode of therapy are conjoined with a minor intervention.[10] In one more study, it was found that PRP alone is not effective in treating vitiligo.[11] In fact, most topical agents, including tacrolimus (0.1%), calcipotriol, and afamelanotide, are better in combination with NBUVB.[3],[9],[12]
Table 1: Overview of the medical therapies in vitiligo with a focus on their effect on pathogenetic steps in the disease[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]

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There are many issues with the use of PRP in vitiligo, one amongst them is lack of logical mechanistic propositus. How, for example, can a therapy that works in melasma, work for a diametrically opposite disorder such as vitiligo is unexplained.[13] The proposed mechanism of PRP does not address the main steps in the causation of vitiligo [Table 1]. Probably the method might just work on melanocyte stimulation, but this is conjectural. Also the repeated injections at twice weekly interval are not a very feasible option and arguably a painful option in a real-life scenario, especially as this itself will induce Koebnerization. In addition, it is difficult to comment based on the existing literature on PRP about the ideal site for this intervention. Also PRP does not help the sites that are difficult to pigment including elbows, pressure-bearing area, or acrofacial sites. The results of the medical therapies such as mometasone furoate (65%) and tacrolimus (94%) in ideal scenarios are immeasurably better [Table 1].

Phototherapy remains the most effective nonsurgical therapy to date. This is in terms of its multifaceted mode of action, stability of pigment, and lack of significant side effects. A broad scale of intergroup comparison suggests that broad band ultraviolet rays B > NBUVB = (PUVA/BB-UVA) > psoralen UVA (solar radiation as source of UVA) [PUVAsol]. In terms of saving health-care resources, PUVAsol is ideal in a country such as India with abundant sunlight.[4],[8] Pathak et al.[5] had reported in a seminal work that a combination of 0.3mg 8-methoxypsoralen and 0.6mg trimethylpsoralen/kg (60%) achieved 75%–100% repigmentation of the head and neck. The chest, abdomen, and back were repigmented nearly as well and better than the arms and legs. This study is crucial in India not just because of the cost-effectiveness of therapy, but is relevant as in the study of PRP, the exposed sites could have responded, consequent to the sufficient and abundant ambient ultraviolet (UV) flux. We had shown that the results of a drug such as tacrolimus are to be seen in the light of UV exposure in a tropical country such as India. Only a substantial improvement on unexposed sites would be of clinical consequence, which was incidentally observed on mucosal sites with tacrolimus.[14]

Thus, as PRP has little demonstrable mechanistic effect on the major steps of vitiligo causation, still a lot is to be researched on this measure and we cannot share the enthusiasm of the authors, though for a disorder of vitiligo, there is a need for more modalities, which is the probable rationale of using PRP. As has been the experience of various authors, a combination of phototherapy and medical therapy would eventually be the ideal therapeutic measure wherein, in view of the profound action of phototherapy, this probably may be credited with the therapeutic response.[6],[7],[15]

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There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Rashighi M, Harris JE. Vitiligo pathogenesis and emerging treatments. Dermatol Clin 2017;35:257-65.  Back to cited text no. 1
Nordlund JJ. The medical treatment of vitiligo: An historical review. Dermatol Clin 2017;35:107-16.  Back to cited text no. 2
Korobko IV, Lomonosov KM. A pilot comparative study of topical latanoprost and tacrolimus in combination with narrow-band ultraviolet B phototherapy and microneedling for the treatment of nonsegmental vitiligo. Dermatol Ther 2016;29:437-41.  Back to cited text no. 3
El-Mofty M, Mostafa W, Youssef R, El-Fangary M, El-Ramly A, Mahgoub D, et al. BB-UVA vs. NB-UVB in the treatment of vitiligo: A randomized controlled clinical study (single blinded). Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 2013;29:239-46.  Back to cited text no. 4
Pathak MA, Mosher DB, Fitzpatrick TB. Safety and therapeutic effectiveness of 8-methoxypsoralen, 4,5’,8-trimethylpsoralen, and psoralen in vitiligo. Natl Cancer Inst Monogr 1984;66:165-73.  Back to cited text no. 5
Song X, Xu A, Pan W, Wallin B, Kivlin R, Lu S, et al. Minocycline protects melanocytes against H2O2-induced cell death via JNK and p38 MAPK pathways. Int J Mol Med 2008;22:9-16.  Back to cited text no. 6
Feily A, Baktash D, Mohebbipour A, Feily A. Potential advantages of simvastatin as a novel anti-vitiligo arsenal. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2013;17:1982-3.  Back to cited text no. 7
Esmat S, Hegazy RA, Shalaby S, Chu-Sung Hu S, Lan CE. Phototherapy and combination therapies for vitiligo. Dermatol Clin 2017;35:171-92.  Back to cited text no. 8
Lim HW, Grimes PE, Agbai O, Hamzavi I, Henderson M, Haddican M, et al. Afamelanotide and narrowband UV-B phototherapy for the treatment of vitiligo: a randomized multicenter trial. JAMA Dermatol 2015;151:42-50.  Back to cited text no. 9
Ibrahim ZA, El-Ashmawy AA, El-Tatawy RA, Sallam FA. The effect of platelet-rich plasma on the outcome of short-term narrowband-ultraviolet B phototherapy in the treatment of vitiligo: a pilot study. J Cosmet Dermatol 2016;15:108-16.  Back to cited text no. 10
Lim K, Shin M-K, Lee M-H. Clinical application of platelet-rich plasma in vitiligo: a pilot study. A poster presented in the Official XXIst International Pigment Cell Conference Website, Bordeaux, France, Sept 21–24, 2011.  Back to cited text no. 11
Köse O, Arca E, Kurumlu Z. Mometasone cream versus pimecrolimus cream for the treatment of childhood localized vitiligo. J Dermatolog Treat 2010;21:133-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
Çayırlı M, Çalışkan E, Açıkgöz G, Erbil AH, Ertürk G. Regression of melasma with platelet-rich plasma treatment. Ann Dermatol 2014;26:401-2.  Back to cited text no. 13
Sardana K, Bhushan P, Kumar Garg V. Effect of tacrolimus on vitiligo in absence of UV radiation exposure. Arch Dermatol 2007;143:119; author reply 120.  Back to cited text no. 14
El Mofty M, Essmat S, Youssef R, Sobeih S, Mahgoub D, Ossama S, et al. The role of systemic steroids and phototherapy in the treatment of stable vitiligo: a randomized controlled trial. Dermatol Ther 2016;29:406-12.  Back to cited text no. 15

Correspondence Address:
Kabir Sardana
Department of Dermatology, Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, New Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_68_17

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