Rapid endoscopic improvement is important for 1-year avoidance of colectomy but not for the long-term prognosis in cyclosporine A treatment for ulcerative colitis

J Gastroenterol. 2010 Nov;45(11):1129-37. doi: 10.1007/s00535-010-0273-x. Epub 2010 Jul 8.


Background: Intravenous (IV) cyclosporine A (CSA) is one of the treatments of choice for patients with steroid-refractory severe ulcerative colitis (UC). In this study, we evaluated the overall experience with CSA treatment in UC patients, from their initial response to long-term prognosis.

Methods: The medical records of 72 patients admitted to our hospital with a severe UC flare-up and treated with IV CSA between November 1996 and October 2008 were reviewed retrospectively. The initial response to CSA was assessed using a clinical activity index, and colectomy was assigned as the endpoint for the long-term prognosis.

Results: Overall, 53 of 72 (73.6%) patients responded initially to CSA. We could not determine any specific parameters that predicted an initial response. A life-table analysis for all patients revealed that 54.4% of patients required a colectomy within 11 years. The long-term risk of surgery was associated with a shorter disease duration, history of adverse reactions against medications and lack of immunomodulator use. In addition, endoscopic improvement at day 14 was associated with colectomy at 1 year, but not with the long-term prognosis.

Conclusions: Although CSA can exert high initial efficacy for severe attacks of UC, >50% of patients who relapse require a colectomy. Specifically, mucosal healing evaluated by endoscopy was associated with the 1-year colectomy rate. In contrast, a history of adverse drug reactions was correlated with the long-term colectomy rate. Therefore, we propose that treatment of severe UC with CSA requires consideration of both initial remission and long-term maintenance as management goals.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Colectomy / methods*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / surgery
  • Colonoscopy / methods
  • Cyclosporine / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Life Tables
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine