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Background:

5-Amino salicylic acid preparations are used in therapy for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases. The bioavailability of these drugs depends on their coating.

Aim:

To determine whether intraluminal pH is decreased by the presence of inflammation, thereby altering the release of 5-amino salicylic acid in the intestinal lumen.

Methods:

Intraluminal gastrointestinal pH was measured by means of a radiotelemetry capsule in 12 healthy controls, in 12 patients with Crohn’s disease (five with active disease), and in 11 patients with ulcerative colitis (seven with active disease).

Results:

The median gastric pH values in the patient groups (Crohn’s disease 2.4, range 1.5–4.1; ulcerative colitis 1.95, range 1.55–4.4) were significantly higher than those observed in the controls (1.55, range 0.95–2.6). In the small bowel and colonic segments, all the pH values of Crohn’s disease patients were comparable to those of the controls, as were the pH values in the proximal small intestine and in the left colon in patients with ulcerative colitis. However, the latter group had higher pH values in the terminal ileum, the caecum and the right colon. Patients with active disease had comparable median gastrointestinal pH values to patients in remission.

Conclusions:

The luminal release of 5-amino salicylic acid might not be inhibited by low pH in patients with active inflammatory bowel diseases. This supports a safe disintegration of the slow release mesalazine preparations even in the presence of severe disease.