Long-term results with azathioprine therapy in patients with corticosteroid-dependent Crohn's disease: open-label prospective study.
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.
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ABSTRACT: To assess the effectiveness of azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine in inducing remission of active Crohn disease and the effectiveness of azathioprine in maintaining remission of quiescent disease. Pertinent studies were selected from the MEDLINE database (1966 to May 1994), abstracts from major gastrointestinal meetings, and references from published articles and reviews. Nine randomized, placebo-controlled trials of azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine therapy were identified: Four addressed active disease, two addressed quiescent disease, and three had multiple therapeutic arms. Data were extracted by three independent observers on the basis of the intention-to-treat principle and were analyzed with logistic regression. Each study was given a quality score on the basis of predetermined criteria. Compared with placebo, azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine therapy had an odds ratio of response of 3.09 (95% CI, 2.45 to 3.91) in patients with active Crohn disease. When the single trial that used 6-mercaptopurine in active disease was excluded from the analysis, the odds ratio of response was 1.45 (CI, 1.12 to 1.87). No trials of quiescent disease used 6-mercaptopurine; the odds ratio of response in these trials of quiescent disease was 2.27 (CI, 1.76 to 2.93). For active disease, continuation of therapy for at least 17 weeks improved response (P = 0.03). For quiescent disease, a higher dose improved response (P = 0.008). Increased cumulative dose improved response in both groups (P < 0.001 for active disease and P = 0.01 for quiescent disease). A steroid-sparing effect was seen in active disease (odds ratio, 3.69 (CI, 2.12 to 6.42) and in quiescent disease (odds ratio, 4.64 [CI, 1.00 to 21.54]). Fistulae improved with therapy (odds ratio, 4.44 [CI, 1.50 to 13.20]). Adverse events requiring withdrawal from a trial, primarily allergy, leukopenia, pancreatitis, and nausea, were increased with therapy (odds ratio, 5.26 [CI, 2.20 to 12.60]). Azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine are effective in treating active Crohn disease and in maintaining remission. Cumulative dose was an important factor in predicting response. Adverse effects were more common among patients receiving therapy.Annals of internal medicine 08/1995; 123(2):132-42. · 13.98 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: While immunosuppressive agents are used widely in the management of Crohn's disease, their efficacy has not been well established in randomised controlled trials. This study was designed to examine whether azathioprine increases remission rate when used in conjunction with a diminishing dose regimen of prednisolone over a period of 12 weeks. It further examined whether azathioprine offers any therapeutic advantage over placebo in the maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease over a period of 15 months. Sixty three patients with active Crohn's disease were treated with a 12 weeks diminishing dose of prednisolone and at the same time entered into a randomised, double blind 15 month trial of either azathioprine (2.5 mg/kg) or placebo. Remission rates between the two groups were compared at 12 weeks and at 15 months. There was no significant difference in the proportion of patients who had achieved and maintained remission by week 12 but at 15 months there was a highly significant difference in the proportion of patients in remission (42% receiving azathioprine v 7% receiving placebo), p = 0.001. Using life tables this beneficial effect was reflected as the difference in the median number of days on the trial (p = 0.02). There were significantly greater decreases over the trial period in the median erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C reactive protein, and leucocyte count in the azathioprine group. There were no cases of severe bone marrow suppression or clinical pancreatitis. In conclusion, azathioprine offers a therapeutic advantage over placebo in the maintenance of remission in Crohn's disease.Gut 12/1995; 37(5):674-8. · 10.73 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Measurement of 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations may be useful for optimising treatment with azathioprine and 6-mercaptopurine. We conducted a study of 170 patients with inflammatory bowel disease treated with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine to determine the relationship between 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations and both disease activity, as measured by the inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire (active disease < 170, remission > or = 170) and leucopenia. Blood was submitted for whole blood 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentration and leucocyte count. Mean (SD) inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire score was 176 (32). There was no correlation between inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire scores and 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations (r(s) = -0.09, p = 0.24). Median 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations in 56 patients with active disease and 114 patients in remission were similar (139 v 131 pmol/8 x 10(8) red blood cells; p = 0.26). There was no correlation between 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations and leucocyte counts. In patients with inflammatory bowel disease treated with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine, 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations did not correlate with disease activity, as measured by the inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire, or leucocyte count. These findings are discrepant with most previous studies, possibly due to selection of responding patients who tolerated the medications. A prospective, randomised, dose optimisation trial using 6-thioguanine nucleotide concentrations is warranted.Gut 11/2001; 49(5):665-70. · 10.73 Impact Factor