Neutrophilic dermatosis after azathioprine exposure

Nika Cyrus, Robert Stavert, Ashley R. Mason, Christine J. Ko, Jennifer Nam Choi*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Importance: Azathioprine hypersensitivity syndrome can present clinically and histopathologically like Sweet syndrome. Shared clinical features include fever, constitutional symptoms, prompt response to systemic corticosteroid therapy, neutrophilia, and abrupt onset of erythematous cutaneous lesions. Histologically, both azathioprine hypersensitivity syndrome and Sweet syndrome are rich in neutrophils. Observations: An 81-year-old woman with Crohn disease presented with fever and an acute eruption of plaques on her extremities within 2 weeks of starting treatment with azathioprine. Laboratory evaluation was notable for leukocytosis and neutrophilia. Skin biopsy of an erythematous plaque on the thigh demonstrated a suppurative folliculitis. Azathioprine treatment was discontinued resulting in resolution of the clinical lesions within 5 days. Our case was compared with 18 cases with similar clinical features. Conclusions and Relevance: We report a case of azathioprine hypersensitivity syndrome and review the literature on azathioprine-induced eruptions with features of Sweet syndrome. Our patient's distribution of lesions on the extremities and the finding of suppurative folliculitis on histopathology were not classical for Sweet syndrome. Azathioprine hypersensitivity syndrome seems to be a neutrophil-driven dermatosis; therefore, many overlapping features with Sweet syndrome are not surprising. Due to the potential for anaphylaxis with azathioprine rechallenge, a better term for a Sweetlike presentation in the setting of azathioprine administration is azathioprine hypersensitivity syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-597
Number of pages6
JournalJAMA dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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