Behçet’s Syndrome

Behçet’s syndrome, also known as Behçet’s disease, is a rare inflammatory disorder that affects multiple parts of the body. It is named after the Turkish dermatologist, Hulusi Behçet, who first described it in 1937. The condition primarily affects young adults in their 20s and 30s, and is more common in countries along the ancient Silk Road, including Turkey, Iran, and Japan.

Behçet’s syndrome is characterized by recurrent episodes of inflammation in different parts of the body, including the mouth, eyes, skin, joints, and genital areas. The symptoms may vary depending on the organs involved, but typically include painful oral and genital ulcers, eye inflammation, skin rashes, joint pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms.


The exact cause of the disease is not known, but several factors such as genetics, environmental factors, and immune dysregulation have been suggested to play a role in the development of Behçet’s syndrome.

  1. Genetic factors: Behçet’s syndrome has a strong genetic predisposition, with up to 50% of affected individuals having a positive family history of the disease. Specific genetic markers have been identified, including HLA-B51, which is found in up to 80% of patients with Behçet’s syndrome. Other genes, such as IL-10, IL-23R, and CCR1, have also been associated with the development of the disease.
  2. Environmental factors: Some environmental factors have been implicated in the development of Behçet’s syndrome, including infections, diet, and exposure to toxins. Viral and bacterial infections have been suggested as triggers for the disease, particularly the herpes simplex virus and Streptococcus sanguinis. In addition, certain dietary factors, such as a high intake of salt, have been linked to an increased risk of developing the disease.
  3. Immune dysregulation: Behçet’s syndrome is characterized by immune dysregulation, with an overactive immune response leading to inflammation and tissue damage. T lymphocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes have been shown to be involved in the pathogenesis of the disease. Cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, also play a role in the development of Behçet’s syndrome.

In conclusion, Behçet’s syndrome is a complex autoimmune disease that results from the interaction of multiple genetic, environmental, and immune factors.


The symptoms of this disease can vary widely among individuals and can also affect other organs in the body, such as the joints, gastrointestinal tract, and central nervous system.

Here are the main symptoms of Behçet’s syndrome:

  1. Oral ulcers: These are painful and recurrent sores that develop on the inside of the mouth, often on the tongue, lips, and gums.
  2. Genital ulcers: These are painful and recurrent sores that develop on the external genitalia, often on the vulva or penis.
  3. Skin lesions: These can vary in appearance, including erythema nodosum, acneiform papules, and pseudofolliculitis.
  4. Eye inflammation: This can cause redness, pain, and vision loss.
  5. Arthritis: This can cause joint pain, swelling, and stiffness, particularly in the knees, ankles, and wrists.
  6. Gastrointestinal symptoms: These can include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bleeding.
  7. Central nervous system symptoms: These can include headaches, memory loss, and behavioral changes.

Behçet’s syndrome is typically diagnosed based on the presence of recurrent oral and genital ulcers, in addition to two of the other symptoms mentioned above. Treatment for Behçet’s syndrome usually involves managing symptoms with medications, such as corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics.


The diagnosis of Behçet’s syndrome is mainly based on the clinical presentation of symptoms and a thorough physical examination. There is no single diagnostic test for Behçet’s syndrome, and the diagnosis is usually made after excluding other conditions that present with similar symptoms.

The diagnostic criteria for Behçet’s syndrome, as established by the International Study Group, require the presence of recurrent oral ulcers and two of the following criteria:

  • Recurrent genital ulcers
  • Eye involvement (uveitis or retinal vasculitis)
  • Skin involvement (erythema nodosum, pseudofolliculitis, or acneiform nodules)
  • Positive pathergy test (skin prick test that produces a papule after 24-48 hours)

Additional diagnostic tests that may be useful in the evaluation of Behçet’s syndrome include:

  • Blood tests: These can help identify signs of inflammation, such as an elevated erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) or C-reactive protein (CRP) level, and check for antibodies that are commonly found in Behçet’s syndrome, such as HLA-B51.
  • Imaging studies: These can be used to evaluate the extent and severity of organ involvement, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and spinal cord, and ultrasound or CT scan of blood vessels.
  • Biopsy: In some cases, a biopsy of affected tissue, such as the skin or oral mucosa, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions.

The diagnosis of Behçet’s syndrome can be challenging due to its diverse clinical manifestations and lack of specific diagnostic tests. Therefore, it is important to work with a rheumatologist or other medical specialist experienced in diagnosing and managing Behçet’s syndrome. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes for people with Behçet’s syndrome.


The main treatment approach for this condition typically involves a combination of medications, which can help to control inflammation, reduce symptoms, and prevent complications.

  1. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs are commonly used to treat Behçet’s syndrome as they can help to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Examples of these drugs include ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin.
  2. Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory drugs that are used to control the symptoms of Behçet’s syndrome. These drugs can help to reduce inflammation and prevent damage to organs affected by the disease. Examples of these drugs include prednisone and dexamethasone.
  3. Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressant drugs can help to reduce the activity of the immune system, which can help to control inflammation and prevent damage to organs. These drugs are typically used in severe cases of Behçet’s syndrome. Examples of these drugs include azathioprine, cyclophosphamide, and methotrexate.
  4. Biologic drugs: Biologic drugs are a newer class of medications that target specific proteins involved in inflammation. These drugs can be effective in controlling the symptoms of Behçet’s syndrome. Examples of these drugs include infliximab, adalimumab, and etanercept.
  5. Topical treatments: Topical treatments can be used to relieve symptoms such as mouth ulcers and skin lesions. Examples of these treatments include topical corticosteroids, numbing agents, and mouthwashes.
  6. Supportive therapy: Supportive therapy can also play an important role in the treatment of Behçet’s syndrome. This may include physical therapy to help maintain joint mobility and prevent muscle weakness, as well as counseling and support groups to help patients cope with the psychological impact of the disease.

In summary, the main treatment of Behçet’s syndrome involves a combination of medications, including NSAIDs, corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, biologic drugs, and topical treatments. Supportive therapy can also be helpful in managing symptoms and improving quality of life. The specific treatment plan for each patient will depend on the severity of their symptoms and the organs affected by the disease.