Azathioprine without oral ciclosporin in the long-term maintenance of remission induced by intravenous ciclosporin in severe, steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis
Version of Record online: 9 DEC 2002
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Volume 16, Issue 12, pages 2061–2065, December 2002
How to Cite
Domènech, E., Garcia-Planella, E., Bernal, I., Rosinach, M., Cabré, E., Fluvià, L., Boix, J. and Gassull, M. A. (2002), Azathioprine without oral ciclosporin in the long-term maintenance of remission induced by intravenous ciclosporin in severe, steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 16: 2061–2065. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.2002.01385.x
- Issue online: 9 DEC 2002
- Version of Record online: 9 DEC 2002
- Accepted for publication 4 September 2002
Background : Intravenous ciclosporin is considered to be the only alternative to avoid surgery in severe, steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis. In responders, some authors recommend a switch to oral ciclosporin to act as a ‘bridge’ until the therapeutic action of azathioprine is achieved for maintenance treatment.
Aim : To report the short- and long-term outcome of intravenous ciclosporin-responsive ulcerative colitis patients treated with oral azathioprine without oral ciclosporin.
Methods : The records of all patients treated with intravenous ciclosporin for severe, steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis were reviewed. Responders following treatment with azathioprine but without oral ciclosporin as maintenance therapy were included. Patients with colonic cytomegalovirus infection and/or follow-up of less than 1 year were excluded.
Results : Twenty-seven patients were included. Steroids were discontinued in 24 (89%). The median follow-up was 36 months. Eighteen (75%) patients presented mild or moderate relapses, which were easily managed with salicylates or steroids. Cumulative probabilities of relapse were 42%, 72% and 77% at 1, 3 and 5 years, respectively. Eleven (40.7%) patients underwent elective colectomy. Cumulative probabilities of colectomy were 29%, 35% and 42% at 1, 3 and 5 years, respectively. No opportunistic infections were observed.
Conclusions : Oral azathioprine seems to be enough to maintain long-term remission induced by intravenous ciclosporin in patients with steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis. The ‘bridging step’ with oral ciclosporin may not be necessary in this subset of patients, although a randomized controlled trial is warranted to confirm this hypothesis.