BACKGROUND. Lymphedema is a common condition affecting millions around the world that still lacks approved medical therapy. Because ketoprofen, an NSAID, has been therapeutic in experimental lymphedema, we evaluated its efficacy in humans. METHODS. We first performed an exploratory open-label trial. Patients with either primary or secondary lymphedema received ketoprofen 75 mg by mouth 3 times daily for 4 months. Subjects were evaluated for changes in histopathology, with skin thickness, limb volume, and tissue bioimpedance changes serving as secondary endpoints. Based on our encouraging findings, we next conducted a placebo-controlled trial, with the primary outcome defined as a change in skin thickness, as measured by skin calipers. Secondary endpoints for this second study included histopathology, limb volume, bioimpedance, and systemic inflammatory mediators. RESULTS. We enrolled 21 lymphedema patients in the open-label trial, from November 2010 to July 2011. Histopathology and skin thickness were significantly improved at 4 months compared with baseline. In the follow-up, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 34 patients from August 2011 to October 2015, with 16 ketoprofen recipients and 18 placebo-treated subjects. No serious adverse events occurred. The ketoprofen recipients demonstrated reduced skin thickness, as well as improved composite measures of histopathology and decreased plasma granulocyte CSF (G-CSF) expression. CONCLUSION. These 2 exploratory studies together support the utility of targeted antiinflammatory therapy with ketoprofen in patients with lymphedema. Our results highlight the promise of such approaches to help restore a failing lymphatic circulation. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02257970.


Stanley G. Rockson, Wen Tian, Xinguo Jiang, Tatiana Kuznetsova, Francois Haddad, Jamie Zampell, Babak Mehrara, Joshua P. Sampson, Leslie Roche, Jinah Kim, Mark R. Nicolls


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