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Keywords:

  • Crohn's disease;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • Infliximab;
  • Antitumor necrosis factor-alpha antibody;
  • Tumor necrosis factor-alpha

Abstract

Data from clinical trials suggest the efficacy of the chimeric tumor necrosis factor alpha monoclonal antibody infliximab in improving clinical, endoscopic, and histologic outcomes in patients with moderately to severely active Crohn's disease (CD) and fistulizing CD. To determine whether the efficacy and safety record of infliximab reported in clinical trials would be reflected in clinical use, clinical experience with infliximab was assessed in patients with CD at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois. All patients with CD at this institution receiving infliximab in the first year of its release were prospectively followed up for 1 year. Disease activity was scored at the time of the initial infusion and at 1, 3, 7, and 12 weeks after infusion. Results were analyzed separately for patients with luminal or fistulous CD. Clinical response, remission, corticosteroid tapering, and adverse event data were collected. A total of 129 patients with luminal (n = 81) or fistulous (n = 48) disease received a mean of 2.38 and 3.23 infusions of infliximab per patient, respectively. After the initial infusion course, clinical response and remission rates at 3 weeks were 65% and 31% for patients with luminal disease and 78% and 24% for patients with fistulous disease, respectively. Clinical response and remission after the first infusion occurred at a median of 8 days and 9 days, respectively. In those patients who subsequently relapsed, relapses occurred after a mean of 8.5 weeks and 12.2 weeks in patients with luminal and fistulizing disease, respectively. Corticosteroid tapering was possible in > 90% of patients (luminal disease) after the initial infusion and complete withdrawal in 54% after the second infusion, with a sustained median steroid dose of 0 mg from the 4-month time-point onward. Infusion reactions or adverse events occurred in 5–13% of patients during or immediately after the initial infusion of infliximab; most were mild and easily managed and did not increase in incidence with subsequent infusions. Clinical experience with infliximab closely mirrors the findings of controlled clinical trials. Repeated administration of infliximab was efficacious and relatively well tolerated in patients with CD and demonstrated corticosteroid-sparing benefits.