Long-term results with azathioprine therapy in patients with corticosteroid-dependent Crohn's disease: open-label prospective study.

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Center, University Hospital of the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, University of Juiz de Fora School of Medicine, Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Impact Factor: 3.33). 03/2007; 22(2):268-74. DOI: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2006.04393.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A substantial number of patients with Crohn's disease (CD) become dependent on steroids after induction therapy. Treatment with azathioprine (AZA) may be beneficial in such patients. The present open-label study evaluated the long-term safety and efficacy of AZA in steroid-dependent CD patients.
Adult patients with steroid-dependent CD were enrolled for AZA therapy over a 7-year period. The average dose of AZA was 2.0-3.0 mg/kg per day, adjusted according to clinical response and occurrence of adverse effects. Steroid therapy was tapered off according to a predefined schedule. Long-term outcome and adverse reactions were evaluated.
Sixty-nine patients were prospectively included. Steroid-free remission was achieved in 68-81% of patients, partial response in 14.5-27.3% and failure to respond to AZA in 4-15.9% over the initial 48 months. However, the rate of wean from steroid therapy decreased to 53-60% while the rate of failure increased from 6.7% to 17.6% after this period. A breakthrough of symptoms during continuous AZA therapy was common, particularly after 48 months on AZA. The mean leukocyte count at the end of 12 months of therapy was significantly lower in patients who achieved complete response on AZA than in the non-responders (5197 +/- 1250 cells/mm(3) vs 8340 +/- 1310 cells/mm(3), respectively; P < 0.01). Azathioprine was relatively well-tolerated and the incidence of serious adverse effects was small.
Azathioprine was relatively safe and moderately effective for long-term maintenance of steroid-free clinical remission in corticosteroid-dependent CD patients. Patients were more successfully weaned from prednisone treatment, and clinical remission was more often maintained during the first 48 months of AZA therapy. A significant decrease in the white blood cell count at the end of 12 months on AZA was the single factor associated with weaning from steroid dependence.

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Azathioprine is of major importance in the treatment of Crohn's disease; its efficacy has been showed in several works, but real-life data regarding its use is scarce. Our aim was to address the outcome of patients with Crohn's disease under azathioprine in the real-life setting. Crohn's disease patients followed at an Inflammatory Bowel Disease Outpatient Clinic under azathioprine were consecutively enrolled, being allocated in one of four groups. Two groups included patients on treatment with this drug, regarding its two major indications - prevention of post-operative recurrence and steroid-dependent disease; a third group included patients who needed infliximab in addition to azathioprine and a fourth group comprised patients who did not tolerate azathioprine. A total of 221 patients were enrolled, 180 on azathioprine due to steroid-dependency (64 needing additional treatment with infliximab) and 41 for prevention of post-operative recurrence. Steroid-free remission was obtained in 48%. Immunosuppression decreased the number of hospitalized patients (64% vs 36%; p<0.001), but not the surgery rates per person per year. Azathioprine as a post-operative drug was effective in decreasing hospitalizations. The addition of infliximab decreased the number of patients hospitalized (p=0.009) and hospitalization rates per person per year (p<0.001), but had no effect in the surgery rates per person per year. Sixty patients (23%) experienced adverse effects with AZA, 39 requiring discontinuation of the drug. In this real-life study, azathioprine had a long-term steroid sparing effect and reduced hospitalizations. Combination with infliximab reduced hospitalizations but did not decrease the surgery rate.
    Journal of Crohn s and Colitis 12/2013; · 3.39 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background The treatment of Inflammatory bowel disease comes from many years of esperience, clinical trials and mistakes. Discussion In patients with active Crohn disease steroids are considerated the first choice, but recently, the introduction of anti-TNF alfa agents (infliximab and adalimumab) has changed the protocols. Anti-TNF are also used for closing fistula after surgical curettage. An efficently preventive treatment of Crohn disease still has not been found but hight dose of oral salicylates, azatioprine or 6-MP and antibiotics might be useful. In severe attacks of ulcerative colitis, high dose iv treatment of steroids are required for a few days. Later on, a further treatment with anti-TNF might delay the need of surgery. In patients with mild to moderate attacks of ulcerative colitis, topical treatment is preferred, it consists of enemas, suppositories or foams containing 5-aminosalycilic acid, traditional steroids, topical active steroids. Topical treatment can be associated with oral steroids or oral salicylates. Oral salicylates or azatioprine are used for prevention of relaps.
    Italian Journal of Medicine. 01/2009; 3(3):179-186.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Background Although the cost of Crohn's disease (CD) treatment differs considerably, hospitalization and surgery costs account for most of the total treatment cost. Decreasing hospitalization and surgery rates are pivotal issues in reducing health-care costs. Material and Methods We evaluated the effect of azathioprine (AZA) compared with mesalazine on incidence of re-hospitalizations due to all causes and for CD-related surgeries. In this controlled, randomized study, 72 subjects with sub-occlusive ileocecal CD were randomized for AZA (2-3 mg/kg per day) or mesalazine (3.2 g per day) therapy during a 3-year period. The primary end point was the re-hospitalization proportion due to all causes, as well as for surgical procedures during this period evaluated between the groups. Results On an intention-to-treat basis, the proportion of patients re-hospitalized within 36 months due to all causes was lower in patients treated with AZA compared to those on mesalazine (0.39 vs. 0.83, respectively; p=0.035). The AZA group had also significantly lower proportions of re-hospitalization for surgical intervention (0.25 vs. 0.56, respectively; p=0.011). The number of admissions (0.70 vs. 1.41, p=0.001) and the length of re-hospitalization (3.8 vs. 7.7 days; p=0.002) were both lower in AZA patients. Conclusions Patients with sub-occlusive ileocecal CD treated with AZA had lower re-hospitalization rates due to all causes and for surgical management of CD compared to those treated with mesalazine during a 3-year period. The long-term use of AZA in ileocecal CD patients recovering from a sub-occlusion episode can save healthcare costs.
    Medical science monitor: international medical journal of experimental and clinical research 01/2013; 19:716-22. · 1.22 Impact Factor


Available from
Jul 30, 2014