DOI: 10.1111/jocd.15958 ISSN:

COVID outcome in pemphigus: Does rituximab make pemphigus patients susceptible to more severe COVID‐19?

Zeinab Aryanian, Kamran Balighi, Baseerat Sajad, Nafiseh Esmaeli, Maryam Daneshpazhooh, Nasim Mazloumi Tootoonchi, Fereshteh Beigmohammadi, Zeinab Mohseni Afshar, Parvaneh Hatami
  • Dermatology



The COVID‐19 pandemic has raised some concerns regarding the management of chronic skin diseases, especially in patients on immunosuppressive therapy including patients with pemphigus vulgaris (PV). Literature review reveals conflicting results about the effect of monoclonal antibodies such as rituximab on clinical outcome of COVID‐19.


To assess the reciprocal interaction of COVID‐19 and pemphigus and the effect of rituximab on prognosis of COVID‐19 in patients.


We set up a retrospective study on adult patients with a confirmed diagnosis of pemphigus vulgaris and a history of COVID‐19 with or without symptoms during 2020.


Thirty‐six adults with pemphigus vulgaris and SARS‐CoV‐2 infection were included. The SARS‐CoV‐2 infection was confirmed with positive RT‐PCR test results in 31 cases (86.1%) and suspected in the 5 others (13.9%). Gender, total dose of rituximab, number of rituximab cycles, and involvement of head and neck were not associated to duration of COVID‐19 symptoms (p values: 0.32, 0.23, 0.84, and 0.51, respectively), severity of disease (hospitalization) (p values: 0.46, 0.39, 0.23, and 0.72, respectively), or the percentage of lung involvement on CT scan (p values: 0.07, 0.36, 0.38, and 0.09, respectively). Regarding the impact of COVID‐19 on pemphigus, the majority of patients did not experience any changes in their pemphigus regarding clinical phenotype (100%) or severity (83.3%), but PV was worsened in 6 (16.9%) patients which was controlled with increasing the prednisolone dosage.


Rituximab appears to be safe with no increased risk of severe form of COVID‐19 in patients with pemphigus vulgaris.

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