Background: Conventional treatment options for patients with severe steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis include intravenous cyclosporine, which is frequently burdened by toxicity, or colectomy. Preliminary data suggest a benefit from anti-tumour necrosis factor alpha (Infliximab) therapy in patients with steroid refractory ulcerative colitis.
Aim: To evaluate the efficacy of Infliximab in the treatment of severe ulcerative colitis refractory to conventional therapy
Patients and methods: A series of 13 patients with severe ulcerative colitis, refractory to therapy with methyl-prednisolone, 60 mg daily for seven or more days, were treated with a single intravenous infusion of Infliximab 5 mg/kg.
Results and conclusions: Of these 13 patients, 10 (77%) had a clinical response to therapy defined by a clinical activity index 10 on two consecutive days. In 2 patients (15%) total colectomy was necessary on account of clinical worsening whilst one patient refused surgery and was lost to follow-up. All patients who responded showed very rapid clinical improvement, within 2 to 3 days of infusion. Infusion with Infliximab produced no significant adverse events. The mean time of follow-up was 10.1 months (range 5-12; during this time, 9 out of 10 patients (90%) maintained clinical remission and were able to discontinue corticosteroid therapy. Infliximab appears to be an effective agent for inducing long-standing remission in refractory patients with severe ulcerative colitis.