Therapeutic apheresis, a novel approach for immunodisorders, has been used in the last decade for the treatment of ulcerative colitis with promising result, and represents an alternative to conventional pharmacological therapy. Selective apheresis is aimed at reducing the number of circulating lymphocytes, interfering with recruitment and activation of mucosal granulocytes and macrophages, reducing cytokine and chemokine production which are thought to contribute to induction and perpetuation of inflammation. The article briefly reports indications, treatment schedule and clinical results of leukocytapheresis in ulcerative colitis. Available data for the two selective adsorption devices so far approved for clinical use (granulocyte-monocyte apheresis- Adacolumn- and leukocytapheresis-Cellsorba) are partially conflicting, and the number of controlled studies too small to draw definitive conclusions. Nonetheless apheresis definitely appears to be an effective non-conventional tool for the treatment of steroid refractory and steroid dependent UC patients with moderately active disease. The excellent safety profile of the procedure makes this approach attractive, both in adult and in pediatric patients, more so in those refractory to conventional drug therapy, who are presently treated with immunosuppressive and biological therapies.
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