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Background:

Mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is a new immunosuppressant with pharmacodynamic properties comparable to azathioprine. Recent reports found MMF to be effective in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Methods:

An open-label prospective and uncontrolled multicentre 6 month trial of MMF in combination with steroids was conducted in 24 chronic active IBD patients. A daily steroid demand of ≥ 10 mg prednisone in the preceding 2 months and a Crohn’s disease activity index (CDAI) > 150, or moderate to severe activity according to Truelove, served as criteria for chronic activity. The treatment consisted of a steroid pulse and tapering protocol in combination with MMF 2 g/day. A prednisone dose of 5 mg/day was maintained during months 4–6. The primary end-point was induction and maintenance of remission.

Results:

Only 10 of 24 patients had achieved remission after 3 months. All but one Crohn’s disease patient had relapsed by the end of the study at 6 months. Depression and migraine necessitated drug withdrawal in two patients.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, MMF 2 g/day was unable to induce and maintain remission for a period of 6 months in 23 of 24 chronic active IBD patients. Further controlled investigations are required in view of recent conflicting reports.