Granulocytapheresis versus methylprednisolone in patients with acute ulcerative colitis: 12-month follow up

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Nov;23(11):1678-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2008.05595.x. Epub 2008 Sep 24.


Aim: To evaluate granulocytapheresis (GCAP) in active ulcerative colitis (UC), with particular attention to the long-term effects of such treatment.

Methods: We included 80 patients with UC. Activity of the disease was evaluated by clinical activity index and endoscopic index. Patients were randomly divided in two groups: Group A received a five-session (1 session/week) treatment with GCAP, Group B were treated with i.v. or i.m. methylprednisolone (MP). Concomitant therapy with oral 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) 2.4 g/day was maintained in both groups. Subjects who achieved a remission were clinically and endoscopically followed for 12 months after the end of GCAP or MP.

Results: Remission was observed in 72.5% of those treated with GCAP versus 50% of those treated with MP. After a 12-month follow up, a sustained remission was recorded in 40% of those treated with GCAP and in 25% of those treated with MP. During the GCAP only a transient mild headache was recorded in 10% of patients, whereas side-effects were observed in 50% of those treated with MP (P < 0.05).

Conclusion: GCAP results were superior to MP for the treatment of UC, even though no statistically significant difference was observed. Side-effects in the GCAP group were significantly lower than in the MP group. This new therapeutic approach seems able to maintain the condition of remission for a longer time after a flare. In fact, the patients who had obtained a remission after a course of CGAP showed fewer relapses during the follow up compared to the patients treated with MP.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Colonoscopy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / adverse effects
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Granulocytes*
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Leukapheresis*
  • Male
  • Mesalamine / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / administration & dosage
  • Methylprednisolone / adverse effects
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Mesalamine
  • Methylprednisolone