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We report a case of cutaneous vasculopathy associated with the use of levamisole-adulterated cocaine. This recently described clinical entity is characterized by a purpuric rash with a predilection for the ears, leukopenia, and anti-neutrophilic cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) positivity. It is estimated that more than 70% of the current United States cocaine supply is contaminated with levamisole. Levamisole is a widely available, inexpensive, white powder used as a "cutting agent" in cocaine to expand volume and increase profits. It may also increase the euphoric and stimulatory effects of cocaine by increasing brain dopamine levels and producing amphetamine-like metabolites. Our patient exhibited a characteristic rash with involvement of the ears, leukopenia, and cocaine metabolites were detected in serum and urine. The presence of levamisole was confirmed in the urine utilizing gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. ANCA positivity was also present. Punch biopsy of the skin demonstrated vascular thrombosis and necrosis without true vasculitis. We review the literature for reported cases of cocaine-levamisole cutaneous vasculopathy syndrome, highlight the salient immunologic abnormalities, and contrast the features of this entity with idiopathic systemic vasculitis.


Huy Tran, Debbie Tan, Thomas P Marnejon. Cutaneous vasculopathy associated with levamisole-adulterated cocaine. Clinical medicine & research. 2013 Feb;11(1):26-30

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PMID: 22723468

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