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Clinical Trial Summary

Introduction: Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic relapsing inflammatory skin disease inducing poor quality of life. Its conventional treatments often cause unsatisfactory relief and adverse effects in long-term application. Acupuncture treatment is regarded to have a curative effect on AD symptoms. The aim of this trial is to evaluate the therapeutic effects of acupuncture on AD symptoms including pruritus and poor quality of life in patients with AD.

Method and Analysis: This trial is a randomized, sham-controlled pilot trial with different visit frequencies. 30 eligible patients with atopic dermatitis will be randomly allocated in a ratio of 1:1:1 to the Verum Acupuncture group 1 (VA1, 3 days weekly), Verum Acupuncture group 2 (VA2, 2 days weekly) and Sham Acupuncture group (2 days weekly). The acupuncture treatment will be given three or two times a week for 4 weeks according to the allocated groups. The main outcome measures are Visual analogue scale for itch (itch VAS), SCORing Atopic Dermatitis (SCORAD) and Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI) to evaluate the improvement of AD symptoms and Patient Oriented Eczema Measure (POEM), Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) to assess the quality of life of AD patients. It will be measured at baseline, once a week during treatment period and after follow-up period.

Ethics/Dissemination: This protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Boards at Kyung Hee University Korean Medicine Hospital on May 2016. The permission number is KOMCIRB-160212-HRBR-004. This trial will provide the data of therapeutic effects of treating atopic dermatitis with acupuncture in accordance with the different visit frequencies. The outcomes will be facilitated to calculate the sample size of further study with the same design of this study. The findings from this trial will be published and presented in conference.

Clinical Trial Description

Objectives This pilot study aims to investigate the feasibility of validating the anti-pruritic effectiveness of the sole acupuncture intervention and the efficacy of different frequent treatments of acupuncture, and discovering noble candidates of a specific biomaterial associated with the development of atopic dermatitis. Moreover, the result will be facilitated in calculating the sample size on the further study.

Trial design A randomized, sham-controlled, different intervention frequency trial will be conducted at the Kyung Hee University Korean Medicine Hospital from June to November 2016.

Participants and Recruitment

Recruitment Acquiring consent will be conducted by the investigators with the principle of informed consent which confirms participants' voluntarism. The participants will sign the document made of general consent form and additional consent provisions for blood collection and use of their human derived material first of all. The exemplary consent paper and other related literature can be offered upon request.

Randomization and allocation concealment The AD patients will be randomized to one of the three groups via block randomization.

An independent statistician will product random numbers with the PROC PLAN of SAS 9.2 (SAS institute Inc., Cary, NC, USA) and transfer them to the Acupuncture and Meridian Science Research Center (AMSRC) at Kyung Hee University where the each randomization number will be sealed in a sequentially numbered non-transparent envelope by a staff uninvolved in this study.

At the beginning of the randomization process, the investigator will call the independent staff in AMSRC to pass the screening number of the participant. Then the AMSRC staff immediately assign the participating patient to one of three groups by unsealing a numbered envelope. It will be documented in the trial master file thoroughly.

Blinding The participating patients and the assessor will be blinded to the group allocation of patients in this trial. It is impossible for acupuncturists to be unaware of the group assignments, but they will not perform the outcome measurements or data analyses.

To prevent a possible bias, the eye patch will be applied for the patients during the acupuncture treatment, and they will be unable to see the practice procedures. All the acupuncture treatment, regardless of the group assignment, will be practiced by using Park sham devices (AcuPrime Co., Ltd., Exeter, UK) which is attached on the applied acupoints as to block the sighting of penetrating or non-penetrating on the skin of acupuncture needles 9. The acupuncture needles and devices will be maintained for 15 min identically.

Intervention Acupuncture treatment Both manual acupuncture treatment and acupressure would be conducted on every participating AD patient. It was designed to become a pragmatic treatment procedure corresponding with real clinic settings.

In this study, the manual acupuncture treatment is composed of basic acupuncture treatment and additional acupuncture treatment: partially individualized acupuncture treatment will be conducted on the basis of the traditional meridian theory and consensus by the experts in acupuncture and the atopic disease. The number of applied acupoints per patient per session ranges from 6 to 19. The optional points include ST43, GB41, LI2, TE3, SI3, TE6, SI2, BL66, LR3 and SP3.

The clinical research coordinator will ask the symptoms associated with additional acupuncture treatment to reduce the bias. The acupuncture treatment will be practiced with a sterilized stainless needle (40 mm length and 0.25 mm diameter; Dongbang Acupuncture Inc., Bundang, Sungnam, Korea) by one same Korean Medicine Docter. Manipulation technique will be performed to elicit 'de qi' sensation. The needle will be inserted in depth of 5 to 30 mm and retained for 15 minute.

Acupressure technique will be taken after the elimination of stainless needles. The 1.5 mm press tack needles (Haeng Lim Seo Won Medical co., China) will be attached on four acupoints per participating patient per session: LI11 bilaterally and auricular-Shenmen contralaterally. It was designed with the traditional meridian theory and consensus by the experts in acupuncture and the atopic disease. The patients will be instructed by the involved staff to press the applied press tack needles located on LI11 when they feel severe pruritus for 3 min.

All the acupuncture practice will be carried out by the same Korean Medicine Doctor, who will be trained for 10 hours to guarantee that he could perform the identical acupuncture treatment according to the pre-constructed protocol.

Dropout criteria on patients' visits During the study period, each patient will visit 12 or 8 treatment sessions according to allocated group. Since frequent visit would be the burden to participating patients and cause absences from the trial, we made the criteria on the absence of participants of each group and the range of dropout. Acupuncture group 1, which have total 12 acupuncture treatment, ought to complete 10 treatment sessions to minimum and acupuncture group 2 and sham acupuncture group, which have total 8 acupuncture treatment, ought to complete 6 sessions. Each treatment session of all the allocated group cannot be delayed over 6 days from the previous session.

Outcome measures One health care provider involved in this study will conduct a series of outcome measures. There will be no separation between primary and secondary outcome since it is an exploratory pilot study to search independent effectiveness of acupuncture intervention on atopic dermatitis and secure a dataset for the further study.


Investigating biomaterials with blood collection Serum total IgE measurement Serum cytokine/chemokines measurement Serum cortisol measurement MicroRNA microarray

Statistical Methods Sample size calculation The current trial was established as a pilot study to investigate the anti-pruritic effects of acupuncture for the patients with atopic disease. A total of 30 AD patients, 10 in each group, and 20 healthy controls will be recruited during the study period in regard of 20% dropout rate. Its outcomes will suggest evidences for feasibility of further large-scale study and sample size calculation.

Statistical analysis A statistician uninvolved in the research team will take charge of the statistical analysis by using the SPSS 21.0 (IBM SPSS Statistics, New York, USA). Categorical variables will be provided with percentages and continuous variables will be provided as mean and standard deviation.

The intervention effectiveness will be analyzed with the changes between the baseline and the end of treatment period or follow-up period. Data analysis of baseline characteristics between allocated groups will be compared through a repeated-measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) test and χ2 test respectively on continuous variables and categorical variables.

The different efficiency according to three times or twice weekly acupuncture treatment will be analyzed with the changes in itch VAS and SCORAD index by the Mann-Whitney U-test on continuous variables and χ2 test on categorical variables. The difference on therapeutic efficiency between verum acupuncture treatment groups and sham acupuncture treatment group will be investigated in the same way. And these outcome data will be analyzed with 0.1 (two-sided) statistical significance level and the 90% confidence intervals regarding with the professional advice for the small sample size. For the further study, the difference on treatment groups and control group will be applied to calculate the number of needed participants with a set on 0.05 α and 80% power.

Protection of human subjects Ethical approval and registration This study protocol was approved by the Institutional Review Boards at Kyung Hee University Korean Medicine Hospital (KOMCIRB-160212-HRBR-004). It will be performed in accordance with the standards of the International Committee on Harmonization on Good Clinical Practice and the revised version of the Declaration of Helsinki. ;

Study Design

Related Conditions & MeSH terms

NCT number NCT02844452
Study type Interventional
Source Kyunghee University
Status Completed
Phase N/A
Start date September 2016
Completion date April 2017

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