BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Infliximab has proven efficacious in the treatment of Crohn's disease. Limited and contrasting data are available on effectiveness of anti-TNF alpha therapy in ulcerative colitis. We evaluated the efficacy of infliximab in the management of steroid-dependent ulcerative colitis.
METHODS: We report preliminary data from a randomized, open-label, methylprednisolone-controlled trial of infliximab in the induction and maintenance of remission of patients with moderate to severe steroid-dependent ulcerative colitis. Twenty patients received either three infusion of infliximab (5 mg/kg) at 0, 2 and 6 weeks and thereafter every 8 weeks (group A) or methylprednisolone (0,7-1 mg/kg) daily for one week followed by a tapering regimen up to the minimal dose to maintain a symptom-free condition (group B). Clinical remission was defined as a DAI score less than 3.
RESULTS: Ten patients in group A (DAI: 8.9+/-1.4) achieved remission after the first infusion (DAI: 1.6+/-0,7; p = 0.005) and steroids were progressively discontinued. At present (mean follow-up: 9.8+/-1.1 months), 9 out of 10 patients maintain clinical remission, while one patient relapsed at 3 months. Ten patients in group B (DAI: 8.7+/-1.4) reached clinical remission at one week (DAI: 1.9+/-0.3; p = 0.005). Eight out of 10 patients were maintained at a minimal steroid dosage without any relapse at 9.7+/-1.0 months follow-up. Two patients relapsed at 6 and 8 months, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Infliximab seems to be as effective as steroids in the management of moderate to severe steroid-dependent ulcerative colitis. These preliminary data suggest the potential efficacy of repeated treatment with infliximab for short-term maintenance of remission and steroid withdrawal in glucocorticoid-dependent ulcerative colitis.
- ulcerative colitis