Leukocytapheresis in ulcerative colitis: results of a multicenter double-blind prospective case-control study with sham apheresis as placebo treatment

Am J Gastroenterol. 2005 Jun;100(6):1362-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.41089.x.


Objective: Leukocytapheresis (LCAP) is a method of therapeutic apheresis that removes peripheral leukocytes. Previous studies showed that in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), LCAP was more effective than high-dose steroid therapy, and it had few adverse effects. We investigated LCAP in a multicenter study using active and sham devices in a double-blind study in order to elucidate the placebo effect of extracorporeal treatment including anticoagulant medication.

Methods: Twenty-five patients with active UC of severe or moderately severe grade were enrolled and assigned to the active group or the sham group. Six patients were excluded from the study and 19 (10 in the active group and nine in the sham group) were evaluated. LCAP (treatment using an active device or a sham device) was performed once a week for 5 wk, followed by two additional sessions during the next 4 wk at 2-wk intervals. Steroids and other medications were continued at the same dosage for 4 wk, which included a 2-wk pre-observation period and the first 2 wk after the start of the LCAP treatment. New medications or increase in the dosage of previous medication were prohibited until evaluation was conducted.

Results: The clinical activity index (CAI) value of UC, indicated that the active group showed a significantly greater improvement (80%, 8/10) than the sham group (33%, 3/9; p<0.05). Adverse effects were observed in five patients (one in the active group and four in the sham group). None of these effects was severe and none of the sessions was terminated as a consequence of the adverse effects.

Conclusion: The results confirmed that LCAP is a safe and effective therapeutic option for patients with active UC.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Blood Component Removal / instrumentation
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Colonoscopy
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Extracorporeal Circulation / methods
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Leukapheresis / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Placebos
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Placebos