Background: infliximab is a monoclonal antiTNF-ct antibody that has repeatedly shown to be effective in the management of Crohn's disease. However, data are scarce about its efficacy in ulcerative colitis.
Aim: to describe the joint experience of three Spanish hospitals in the use of infliximab in patients with active refractory ulcerative colitis.
Patients and methods: we present seven cases of ulcerative colitis (6 with chronic active disease despite immunosuppressive therapy, and one with acute steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis) treated with infliximab 5 mg/kg of body weight. Clinical response was evaluated by means of the Clinical Activity Index at 2, 4 and 8 weeks after initial infusion. Biochemical (erythrocyte sedimentation rate and C-reactive protein), endoscopic, and histological changes were also assessed.
Results: mean age of patients was 45.8 +/- 17 years (range 23-77); 4 were female. No adverse effects were recorded. Inflammatory activity diminished significantly in 6 of 7 patients (85.7%; CI 95%: 42-99%) both from a clinical (p = 0.01) and biochemical (p <0.05) point of view. Five out of six patients (83.3%; 36-99%) with corticosteroid-dependent disease could be successfully weaned off these drugs. Five patients were endoscopicly controlled both before and after therapy, and a positive endoscopic and histological response could be recorded in all of them.
Conclusion: infliximab may be an effective and safe therapy for some patients with ulcerative colitis refractory to other forms of therapy, although controlled studies are needed to assess its role in the general management of this disease.