Case report: Optical coherence tomography for monitoring biologic therapy in psoriasis and atopic dermatitis

Linh Ha-Wissel*, Handan Yasak, Robert Huber, Detlef Zillikens, Ralf J. Ludwig, Diamant Thaçi, Jennifer E. Hundt

*Corresponding author for this work


Biologic therapies are increasingly used to treat chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. In clinical practice, scores based on evaluation of objective and subjective symptoms are used to assess disease severity, leading to evaluation of treatment goals with clinical decisions on treatment initiation, switch to another treatment modality or to discontinue current treatment. However, this visual-based scoring is relatively subjective and inaccurate due to inter- and intraobserver reliability. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a fast, high-resolution, in vivo imaging modality that enables the visualization of skin structure and vasculature. We evaluated the use of OCT for quantification and monitoring of skin inflammation to improve objective assessment of disease activity in patients with psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. We assessed the following imaging parameters including epidermal thickness, vascular density, plexus depth, vessel diameter, and vessel count. A total of four patients with psoriasis or atopic dermatitis were treated with biologic agents according to current treatment guidelines. OCT was used to monitor their individual treatment response in a target lesion representing disease activity for 52 weeks. Psoriatic and eczema lesions exhibited higher epidermal thickness, increased vascular density, and higher vessel count compared to uninvolved skin. An upward shift of the superficial vascular plexus accompanied by smaller vessel diameters was seen in psoriasis in contrast to atopic dermatitis, where larger vessels were observed. A response to biologic therapy was characterized by normalization of the imaging parameters in the target lesions in comparison to uninvolved skin during the observation period of 52 weeks. Optical coherence tomography potentially serves as an instrument to monitor biologic therapy in inflammatory skin diseases. Imaging parameters may enable objective quantification of inflammation in psoriasis or atopic dermatitis in selected representative skin areas. OCT may reveal persistent subclinical inflammation in atopic dermatitis beyond clinical remission.

Original languageEnglish
Article number995883
JournalFrontiers in medicine
Publication statusPublished - 27.09.2022

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)
  • Academic Focus: Biomedical Engineering
  • Centers: Center for Research on Inflammation of the Skin (CRIS)

DFG Research Classification Scheme

  • 308-01 Optics, Quantum Optics, Atoms, Molecules, Plasmas
  • 204-05 Immunology
  • 205-19 Dermatology


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