The pathogenesis of Crohn's disease (CD) is multifactorial and the activation of specific pathways of immunological system is important. In particular, the adhesion molecules (integrins) mediate the selective binding between the leukocytes and the endothelial cells regulating the migration of leukocytes into the normal and inflamed intestine. Selective adhesion molecule inhibitors interfere with the migration of leukocytes to the sites of inflammation by targeting adhesion molecules (alpha4-integrin or alpha4beta7-integrin). Natalizumab is a humanized IgG4 anti-alpha4-integrin monoclonal antibody that inhibits both alpha4beta7-integrin/mucosal addressin-cell adhesion molecule-1 (MadCAM-1) interaction and alpha4beta1/vascular-cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) binding. Pooled data from the four studies, analyzed in a Cochrane review, suggest that natalizumab is effective for induction of clinical response and remission in patients with moderately to severely active CD. In particular, natalizumab may be beneficial for patients with active inflammation or chronically active disease despite the use of conventional therapies with high level of C-reactive protein values at baseline time. Nevertheless, many problems about the utilization of natalizumab in CD remain unsolved (such as the high placebo response, the final definition of dosage and timing schedule, the definition of outcomes and the development of adverse events).
Keywords: Crohn’s disease; biological therapy; natalizumab; progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy.