Efficacy of low-dose thiopurine therapy for the induction of remission in steroid-dependent ulcerative colitis: Comparison with cytapheresis


Background: The role of azathioprine (AZA) and 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) in the induction of remission in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) remains unclear. Aims: To compare the efficacy and safety of low-dose thiopurine (AZA/6-MP) and cytapheresis (CAP) for the induction of remission in patients with steroid- dependent UC. Patients and Methods: We reviewed the clinical course of 65 patients with steroid-dependent UC with moderate activity, who were treated with either low-dose AZA/6-MP (T-group, n = 38) or with CAP (C-group, n = 27). The efficacy and safety for the first 10 weeks after the start of the therapies were compared between the two groups. The cumulative probability curves of treatment failure were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. Clinical remission was defined as an ulcerative colitis activity index value of less than 150 without any other treatments. Results: Neither clinical characteristics, concomitant therapies, nor laboratory data (except for serum albumin levels) were different between the two groups. The remission rate at 10 weeks was not different between the two groups (55.3% in the T-group and 70.4% in the C-group, p = 0.22 in the intention-to-treat analysis). The frequencies of adverse events did not differ be- tween the two groups (p = 0.12). The cumulative pro- bability of treatment failure at 10 weeks was 44.7% for the T-group and 29.6% for the C-group (p = 0.23). Conclusions: Low-dose thiopurine therapy is an alter- native candidate for the induction of remission in pa- tients with steroid-dependent, moderate UC.

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Kochi, S. , Nakamura, S. and Matsumoto, T. (2012) Efficacy of low-dose thiopurine therapy for the induction of remission in steroid-dependent ulcerative colitis: Comparison with cytapheresis. Open Journal of Gastroenterology, 2, 9-14. doi: 10.4236/ojgas.2012.21002.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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