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      Treatment of alarming head and neck infantile hemangiomas with interferon-α2a: a clinical study in eleven consecutive patients

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          To evaluate the efficacy and adverse effects of interferon-α2a in the treatment of alarming infantile hemangiomas in the head and neck region.

          Patients and methods

          From January 2009–December 2010, a subcutaneous injection of interferon-α2a was applied to eleven infants with giant multifocal or segmental hemangiomas at a dose of 3 million units/m 2 per day. All patients did not respond to propranolol or corticosteroids. The age at initiation of interferon-α2a therapy ranged from 3 days to 8 months (median: 4 months). The duration of therapy ranged from 2–4.5 months (median: 3 months). Eight patients received medication for 3 months, one patient for 4.5 months, and two patients for 2 months.


          Nine patients had a reduction in tumor mass of 95%; two patients’ tumors decreased in size by 75%. The overall response rate was 100%. The main adverse effects included fever, diarrhea, and anorexia, which resolved after stopping the medication. No serious adverse effect was observed.


          Short-term treatment with interferon-α2a can be used as a safe and effective treatment for alarming infantile hemangiomas that are resistant to propranolol or corticosteroids, and that endanger the proper functioning of the affected organ or the patient’s life.

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          Most cited references 21

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          Interferon alfa-2a therapy for life-threatening hemangiomas of infancy.

          Most hemangiomas are small, harmless birthmarks that appear soon after birth, proliferate for 8 to 18 months, and then slowly regress over the next 5 to 8 years, leaving normal or slightly blemished skin. In rare cases, hemangiomas can endanger vital structures, with a mortality of up to 60 percent. About a third of these life-threatening hemangiomas respond to treatment with corticosteroids, but for the others there is no safe and effective treatment. We evaluated the effects of daily subcutaneous injections of interferon alfa-2a (up to 3 million units per square meter of body-surface area) in 20 neonates and infants with life-threatening or vision-threatening hemangiomas that failed to respond to corticosteroid therapy. In 18 of the 20 patients the hemangiomas regressed by 50 percent or more after an average of 7.8 months of treatment (range, 2 to 13). One infant died of refractory proliferation of a lesion and consumptive coagulopathy. The condition of three other patients who had large hemangiomas associated with consumptive coagulopathies that were unresponsive to conventional therapies stabilized after seven days of treatment with interferon alfa-2a alone. Transient side effects of treatment with interferon alfa-2a included fever, neutropenia (one patient), and skin necrosis (one patient). No long-term toxicity has been observed after a mean follow-up of 16 months. Interferon alfa-2a appears to induce the early regression of life-threatening corticosteroid-resistant hemangiomas of infancy.
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            Prospective study of infantile hemangiomas: clinical characteristics predicting complications and treatment.

            Infantile hemangiomas are the most common tumor of infancy. Risk factors for complications and need for treatment have not been studied previously in a large prospective study. This study aims to identify clinical characteristics associated with complications and the need for therapeutic intervention. We conducted a prospective cohort study at 7 US pediatric dermatology clinics with a consecutive sample of 1058 children, aged < or = 12 years, with infantile hemangiomas enrolled between September 2002 and October 2003. A standardized questionnaire was used to collect data on each patient and each hemangioma, including clinical characteristics, complications, and treatment. Twenty-four percent of patients experienced complications related to their hemangioma(s), and 38% of our patients received some form of treatment during the study period. Hemangiomas that had complications and required treatment were larger and more likely to be located on the face. Segmental hemangiomas were 11 times more likely to experience complications and 8 times more likely to receive treatment than localized hemangiomas, even when controlled for size. Large size, facial location, and/or segmental morphology are the most important predictors of poor short-term outcomes as measured by complication and treatment rates.
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              A randomized controlled trial of propranolol for infantile hemangiomas.

              Propranolol hydrochloride is a safe and effective medication for treating infantile hemangiomas (IHs), with decreases in IH volume, color, and elevation. Forty children between the ages of 9 weeks and 5 years with facial IHs or IHs in sites with the potential for disfigurement were randomly assigned to receive propranolol or placebo oral solution 2 mg/kg per day divided 3 times daily for 6 months. Baseline electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, and laboratory evaluations were performed. Monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, and blood glucose was performed at each visit. Children younger than 6 months were admitted to the hospital for monitoring after their first dose at weeks 1 and 2. Efficacy was assessed by performing blinded volume measurements at weeks 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, and 24 and blinded investigator scoring of photographs at weeks 0, 12, and 24. IH growth stopped by week 4 in the propranolol group. Significant differences in the percent change in volume were seen between groups, with the largest difference at week 12. Significant decrease in IH redness and elevation occurred in the propranolol group at weeks 12 and 24 (P = .01 and .001, respectively). No significant hypoglycemia, hypotension, or bradycardia occurred. One child discontinued the study because of an upper respiratory tract infection. Other adverse events included bronchiolitis, gastroenteritis, streptococcal infection, cool extremities, dental caries, and sleep disturbance. Propranolol hydrochloride administered orally at 2 mg/kg per day reduced the volume, color, and elevation of focal and segmental IH in infants younger than 6 months and children up to 5 years of age.

                Author and article information

                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Des Devel Ther
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Drug Design, Development and Therapy
                Dove Medical Press
                04 February 2015
                : 9
                : 723-727
                [1 ]Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, College of Stomatology, Ninth People’s Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Shanghai Key Laboratory of Stomatology, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]School of Pharmacy, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jia Wei Zheng, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Ninth People’s Hospital, College of Stomatology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, No 639, Zhi Zao Ju Road, Shanghai 200011, People’s Republic of China, Tel +86 212 327 1063, Fax +86 216 312 1780, Email zhjw@ 123456omschina.org.cn
                © 2015 Zhang et al. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

                Original Research

                Pharmacology & Pharmaceutical medicine

                adverse effect, head and neck, interferon-α, hemangioma


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