Background & aims: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the esophagus characterized by dense tissue eosinophilia; it is refractory to proton pump inhibitor therapy. EoE affects all age groups but most frequently individuals between 20 and 50 years of age. Topical corticosteroids are effective in pediatric patients with EoE, but no controlled studies of corticosteroids have been reported in adult patients.
Methods: We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the effect of oral budesonide (1 mg twice daily for 15 days) in adolescent and adult patients with active EoE. Pretreatment and posttreatment disease activity was assessed clinically, endoscopically, and histologically. The primary end point was reduced mean numbers of eosinophils in the esophageal epithelium (number per high-power field [hpf] = esophageal eosinophil load). Esophageal biopsy and blood samples were analyzed using immunofluorescence and immunoassays, respectively, for biomarkers of inflammation and treatment response.
Results: A 15-day course of therapy significantly decreased the number of eosinophils in the esophageal epithelium in patients given budesonide (from 68.2 to 5.5 eosinophils/hpf; P < .0001) but not in the placebo group (from 62.3 to 56.5 eosinophils/hpf; P = .48). Dysphagia scores significantly improved among patients given budesonide compared with those given placebo (5.61 vs 2.22; P < .0001). White exudates and red furrows were reversed in patients given budesonide, based on endoscopy examination. Budesonide, but not placebo, also reduced apoptosis of epithelial cells and molecular remodeling events in the esophagus; no serious adverse events were observed.
Conclusions: A 15-day course of treatment with budesonide is well tolerated and highly effective in inducing a histologic and clinical remission in adolescent and adult patients with active EoE.
Copyright © 2010 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.