Treatment outcome of oral tofacitinib and ruxolitinib in patients with alopecia areata: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Da Ae Yu, Ye Eun Kim, Ohsang Kwon, Hyunsun Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Tofacitinib and ruxolitinib have been used off-label to treat alopecia areata. Although a number of case reports and small studies have been published, there are no comprehensive reviews examining the outcomes of using tofacitinib and ruxolitinib for the treatment of alopecia areata. Aims: The aim of the study was to examine the outcome of patients with alopecia areata treated with oral tofacitinib or ruxolitinib in previously published studies. Methods: A search of MEDLINE, Embase and Cochrane library was conducted. A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed focusing on the Severity of Alopecia Tool 50 achievement rate, the frequency of adverse events and recurrence after discontinuation of treatment. Results: A total of 1244 studies were identified of which only 12 studies met the inclusion criteria. Of the 346 patients in these 12 studies, 288 had received oral tofacitinib and 58 had received oral ruxolitinib. The overall Severity of Alopecia Tool50 achievement rate was 66% (95% confidence interval, 54%-76%). Subgroup analysis revealed that drug choice, mean age, sex ratio and alopecia areata subtype ratio did not significantly affect the treatment response. Infections and laboratory abnormalities were the most common adverse events (98 and 65 cases of 319 patients, respectively). Patients treated for more than six months had a greater frequency of laboratory abnormalities as compared to those treated for shorter durations (24% vs. 7%; P = 0.04). Recurrence of alopecia areata was observed within three months after discontinuation of treatment in the majority (74%) of patients. Limitations: This analysis was limited by the small number of observational studies available for review, the heterogeneity of patient characteristics and the lack of long-term data. Conclusion: Both oral tofacitinib and ruxolitinib are effective and well tolerated in the treatment of alopecia areata. Clinicians should be aware of the expected efficacy, adverse events and high recurrence rate of oral JAK inhibitors for alopecia areata to effectively counsel these patients before starting therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-627
Number of pages7
JournalIndian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Alopecia areata
  • Meta-analysis
  • Ruxolitinib
  • Systematic review
  • Tofacitinib


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