Aim: To report the results of a prospective, open-label, uncontrolled study in 13 patients affected by Crohn's disease with resistance to steroids.
Methods: The patients were treated long-term with oral tacrolimus, aiming to both resolve acute attacks and maintain remission. Tacrolimus was administered at the dose of 0.1--0.2 mg.day/kg and adjusted in order to achieve levels of 5--10 ng/mL; only mesalazine was continued concomitantly. Steroids and total parenteral nutrition were tapered when appropriate.
Results: Median treatment was 27.3 months. Only one patient dropped out due to adverse events. Crohn's disease activity index score significantly decreased after 6 months in 11 patients; for 1 year in nine of them, and 7 years in two of them. The inflammatory bowel disease life-quality questionnaire score significantly increased over the same periods. A marked drop in hospitalizations was recorded. In three out of six patients complete closure of fistulas occurred. Tacrolimus allowed total parenteral nutrition to be withdrawn in three out of five patients. Supplementation with low-dose steroids was required in five patients. Two patients underwent surgery.
Conclusions: Tacrolimus therapy appears to be associated with both short- and long-term benefits, and may represent a therapeutic option in Crohn's disease when conventional therapies fail. This study encourages its use in controlled trials.