Background/aims: Controlled studies in humans have shown the role of antibodies to tumor necrosis factor-alpha in the treatment of both fistulizing and inflammatory Crohn's disease. The aim of this study is to report the results of a multicenter clinical trial to evaluate efficacy of infliximab in Crohn's disease patients who are refractory to conservative drugs or fistulizing Crohn's disease.
Methodology: This trial was carried out at 5 university and community hospitals, in Turkey. A total of 25 patients with Crohn's disease that were unresponsive to conventional medical therapy, participated; 17 of the 25 were in the fistulizing disease group and 8 were in the inflammatory disease group. Clinical response was classified according to fistula drainage, diarrhea as positive response or no response.
Results: Overall response rate was 92% (23/25), regardless of the disease group, after first infusion of infliximab. Sixteen out of 17 patients in the fistulizing disease group had a positive response. Fourteen of the 16 positive responders later relapsed. Median duration of response was 8 weeks (range, 2-35 wk). Active inflammatory disease patients had a positive response rate of 75% (6/8) and two of the patients were nonresponders. A further two patients relapsed at week 14. Two patients in both arms of the study were still in remission at the end of the study. Major adverse events were: pneumonia in one patient, skin infections in two patients, pulmonary thromboembolism and death in one patient.
Conclusions: Infliximab treatment seems to be more effective in Crohn's disease patients especially in those with fistulizing disease than those with non-fistulizing, inflammatory disease. It is evident that maintenance of remission might be achieved with ongoing maintenance therapy. We suggest maintenance of infliximab therapy.