Comparison of selective retinoic acid receptor- and retinoic X receptor-mediated efficacy, tolerance, and survival in cutaneous t-cell lymphoma

Christiane Querfeld, Steven T. Rosen, Joan Guitart, Alfred Rademaker, Bing B. Fung, William Posten, Timothy M. Kuzel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas are non-Hodgkin's lymphomas with varied clinical presentation and prognosis. The most common subtypes of cutaneous T-cell lymphomas are the epidermotropic variants mycosis fungoides and Sézary syndrome. Treatment of mycosis fungoides has encompassed a variety of modalities including the use of retinoids with several studies evaluating their efficacy. The reported benefits and duration of response have varied in published data. The biological effect of retinoids is mediated by specific receptor families, retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and retinoic X receptor (RXR), with subsequently altered gene expression. There are no data available on cutaneous T-cell lymphomas that compare RAR and RXR retinoids. The objective of our retrospective, nonrandomized, single-center study was to compare the response, survival outcomes, and toxic effects in our phase II trial of the RAR-specific retinoid, all-trans retinoic acid, with clinical use of the RXR-specific retinoid, bexarotene, in patients with mycosis fungoides/ Sézary syndrome who have relapsed. There was no statistical difference in response rates (12% vs 21%), response duration (20.5 vs 7.3 months), event-free survival time (4 vs 5 months), or median survival when corrected for length of follow-up. Both have favorable toxicity profiles that can be managed with medications. The toxicity profile caused by bexarotene seems to be more limited to laboratory values and better tolerated, although generally associated with more severe grades of toxicity. In conclusion, both retinoids have modest objective response rates and, therefore, most likely will have limited impact as monotherapeutic agents. However, the immunomodulatory effects of RAR and RXR retinoids provide a rational basis for using retinoids in combination with other biologic immune response modifiers, phototherapy, or cytotoxic chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-32
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2004


  • ATRA
  • CR
  • CTCL
  • FDA
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • MF
  • NCI
  • National Cancer Institute
  • PD
  • PR
  • RAR
  • RXR
  • all-trans-retinoic acid
  • complete response
  • cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
  • mycosis fungoides
  • partial response
  • progressive disease
  • retinoic acid receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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