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Summary

Background

The role of antitumour necrosis factor-alpha (anti-TNF) therapy for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) among liver transplant recipients is largely unknown given the rarity of this population and the paucity of literature on the subject.

Aim

To investigate the safety and efficacy of anti-TNF therapy for refractory IBD in the post liver transplant population.

Methods

The liver transplant database at London Health Sciences Centre was searched to identify adult patients with IBD treated with anti-TNF therapy post transplantation.

Results

Six patients (five men, one woman) were identified, aged 28–65. All patients had cadaveric orthotopic liver transplants. Four patients required transplantation due to primary sclerosing cholangitis, one due to autoimmune hepatitis, and one due to biliary atresia. Five patients suffered from Crohn's disease and the remaining patient from indeterminate colitis. All patients were treated with infliximab 5 mg/kg every 8 weeks after undergoing induction at weeks 0, 2 and 6, with the exception of one patient. The duration of infliximab therapy ranged from 8 weeks to 4 years. Four patients treated with infliximab experienced sustained improvement of their IBD symptoms post transplantation, as documented by Harvey–Bradshaw Index scores demonstrating clinical remission. Of the remaining two patients, neither had sustained improvement of their IBD with infliximab or subsequent adalimumab. One patient was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus and another with colorectal adenocarcinoma following anti-TNF therapy. Otherwise, no side effects were attributed to anti-TNF therapy.

Conclusions

Based on this case series, anti-TNF therapy appears to be safe and effective for treating refractory IBD in patients post liver transplantation. These patients respond to anti-TNF therapy similar to those who have not been previously transplanted.