Background: Treatment with apremilast has recently demonstrated clinically meaningful improvement in moderate hidradenitis suppurativa (HS). Objective: To evaluate the change in expression of inflammatory markers in lesional skin of HS patients receiving apremilast 30 mg twice daily (n = 15) for 16 weeks compared with placebo (n = 5). Methods: At baseline, 5-mm punch biopsies were obtained from an index lesion (HSL) and non-lesional (HSN) skin in the same anatomical area. Subsequent HSL samples were taken as close as possible to the previously biopsied site at week 4 and week 16. After sampling, biopsies were split; one half was processed for in vivo mRNA analysis using real-time quantitative PCR; the other half was cultured for ex vivo protein analysis using a proximity extension assay (Olink). Linear mixed effects models were calculated to compare the levels of inflammatory markers in HSL skin between apremilast and placebo over time. Results: At baseline, 17 proteins with a fold change >2 in HSL vs. HSN skin were identified in 20 patients. The top five were IL-17A (5), S100A12, CST5, IL-12/23p40, CD6 (1) with fold changes ranging from 6.6 to 1638, respectively (FDR <0.044). Linear mixed effects models for 75 assays were calculated. Protein levels of S100A12 decreased during treatment in the apremilast group compared with the placebo group (p = 0.014, FDR = 0.186). None of the 14 genes exhibited significant changes in expression over time. However, an evident downward trend in relative mRNA expression of IL-17A and IL-17F was demonstrated in patients receiving apremilast. Conclusion: We did not detect statistically significant changes in inflammatory markers in HSL skin of HS patients receiving apremilast compared with placebo, despite clinical improvement in the apremilast group. Nonetheless, S100A12 and IL-17A were significantly elevated in HSL skin and showed a decrease in response to apremilast. The translational model in clinical trials involving HS clearly needs further improvement.

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Journal Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Vossen, A.R.J.V, van der Zee, H.H, Davelaar, N, Mus, A.M.C, van Doorn, M.B.A, & Prens, E.P. (2018). Apremilast for moderate hidradenitis suppurativa: no significant change in lesional skin inflammatory biomarkers. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology. doi:10.1111/jdv.15354