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Original Article


Clinical Features of Drug-Induced Hypersensitivity Syndrome in 38 Patients


SJ Um,1 SK Lee,1 YH Kim,2 KH Kim,2 CH Son,1 MS Roh,3 MK Lee4

1Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, Busan, Korea
2Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, Busan, Korea
3Department of Anatomic Pathology, College of Medicine, Dong-A University, Busan, Korea
4Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Pusan National University, Busan, Korea

J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2010; Vol. 20(7): 556-562



Background: The clinical features of drug-induced hypersensitivity syndrome (DIHS) or drug rash with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms(DRESS) syndrome are complicated, and the incidence of this condition is very low.

Objective: To evaluate the clinical course of DIHS/DRESS and identify effective treatment options.

Methods: This study was a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected clinical data in 38 consecutive patients with DIHS/DRESS diagnosed between March 2004 and January 2009. We investigated the clinical features, response to treatment, and outcome of 38 patients.

Results: The study patients consisted of 18 men (47.4%) and 20 women (52.6%). The most common causative drugs were anticonvulsants (47.4%) and antibiotics (18.4%), followed by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (13.2%), allopurinol (5.3%), and undetermined agents (15.8%). The latency period ranged from 3 to 105 days, with a mean (SD) of 25.2 (21.5) days. Systemic corticosteroids were administered to 16 patients (42.1%). Twenty-two (57.9%) patients were treated with topical corticosteroids and antihistamines (no systemic corticosteroids). Complete recovery was noted in 36 patients (94.8%). Two of the patients treated with systemic corticosteroids had a poor outcome: one died due to an opportunistic infection secondary to long-term systemic corticosteroid treatment; the other showed progressive deterioration of liver damage, although the final outcome is not known.

Conclusion: The drugs associated with DIHS/DRESS were variable and most frequently included anticonvulsants, ß-lactam antibiotics, and NSAIDs. The syndrome was more common than generally recognized. Additional studies are needed to evaluate the clinical indications for systemic corticosteroids in patients with DIHS/DRESS.

Key words: Drug hypersensitivity. Anticonvulsant. Corticosteroid.