Clinical visible signs of disease activity in vitiligo: a systematic review and meta-analysis

N. van Geel, L. Grine, P. de Wispelaere, D. Mertens, C. A. C. Prinsen, R. Speeckaert

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Vitiligo is an unpredictable depigmenting disorder for which a static method to assess disease activity is lacking. Presence of certain skin manifestations may be indicative of disease activity. Here, we evaluated the current evidence for an association between clinical signs and reported disease activity in vitiligo. A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed based on a search in PubMed, Embase and Cochrane Library. Literature reporting skin manifestations and disease activity was analysed based on descriptive analyses and, if applicable, odd ratios. Forty-six observational studies were selected and analysed, including 28 case reports. Reported clinical signs in relation to active vitiligo were as follows: Koebner's phenomenon, confetti-like depigmentations, tri- and hypochromic lesions (including poorly defined borders), inflammatory borders/areas, itch and leukotrichia. Based on this search, strong evidence was found for Koebner's phenomenon. Poorly defined borders and confetti lesions are potential markers, although more data are needed to confirm this. Evidence for other skin manifestations was inconclusive, whereas case reports on inflammatory borders were indicative of active disease. Limitations included the lack of randomized controlled trials, large-scale prospective studies and heterogeneity due to inconsistent definitions. This systematic review urges the vitiligo community to come forward with consensus-based definitions as well as a reliable scoring system to assess these clinical signs and to design optimal trials to investigate their true predictive value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1667-1675
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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