Objectives: The use of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) antagonists has changed the therapeutic strategy for Crohn's disease (CD). Adalimumab (ADA), a fully human anti-TNF-alpha monoclonal antibody, is an effective therapy for patients with CD, both naive patients and those intolerant or refractory to Infliximab (IFX), a chimeric anti-TNF-alpha agent. However, the use of ADA is rarely reported in pediatric CD. We performed an open prospective evaluation of short- and long-term efficacy and safety of ADA in children with moderate-to-severe CD.
Methods: A total of 23 pediatric CD patients (9 naive and 14 intolerant or unresponsive to IFX) received ADA subcutaneously as a loading schedule at weeks 0 and 2, and at every other week (eow) during a 48-week maintenance phase. Loading and maintenance doses were 160/80 and 80 mg eow in 13 cases, 120/80 and 80 mg eow in 2, and 80/40 and 40 mg eow in 8 cases. The primary efficacy outcomes were clinical remission and response at different scheduled visits along the maintenance phase. At baseline, 13 patients also received immunomodulators (IMs).
Results: At weeks 2, 4, 12, 24, and 48, remission rates were 36.3, 60.8, 30.5, 50, and 65.2%, respectively, whereas response rates were 87, 88, 70, 86, and 91%, respectively. Four patients at week 24 and 2 at week 48 received IMs; the mean daily corticosteroid dose, disease activity index, C-reactive protein level, and erythrocyte sedimentation rate decreased significantly throughout the trial. No serious adverse events were recorded.
Conclusions: ADA can be an effective and safe biological agent for inducing and maintaining remission in children with moderate-to-severe CD, even in those with previous IFX therapy.