Effect and safety of granulocyte-monocyte adsorption apheresis for patients with ulcerative colitis positive for cytomegalovirus in comparison with immunosuppressants

Digestion. 2011;84(1):3-9. doi: 10.1159/000321911. Epub 2011 Feb 9.


Background: Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection exacerbates ulcerative colitis (UC) refractory to immunosuppressive therapies (IMT). However, the underlying UC remained active in some UC patients, despite the fact that CMV-DNA in colonic mucosa became negative after antiviral therapy. Therefore, new therapeutic strategies for UC patients concomitant with CMV infection in mucosa are required.

Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect and safety of granulocyte-monocyte adsorption apheresis (GMA) in UC patients positive for CMV infection after antiviral therapy.

Methods: From October 2003 to December 2008, 64 patients with UC refractory to IMT, including steroids and immunomodulators, were enrolled in this retrospective, observational, multicenter study, which was reviewed and approved by the Institutional Review Board of Kyoto University. CMV infection was investigated by 3 methods (histologic examination, CMV antigenemia, and polymerase chain reaction). We investigated the clinical outcomes of GMA and IMT after 2 weeks of treatment with ganciclovir.

Results: Thirty-one (48.4%) of 64 patients with UC refractory to IMT were positive for CMV. Of the 31 patients, 4 (12.9%) underwent colectomy. Twenty-seven patients (87.1%) underwent antiviral therapy. Of those 27 patients, 7 achieved remission following antiviral therapy alone. Of the remaining 20 patients who did not achieve remission despite the disappearance of CMV-DNA, 11 and 9 patients were treated with additional GMA (GMA group) and IMT (IMT group), respectively. Of 11 patients (GMA group), 9 achieved remission and 2 underwent colectomy. Out of the remaining 9 patients (IMT group), 4 achieved remission and 5 underwent colectomy. CMV-DNA was not detected in 11 patients after GMA, but it was detected again in all 5 patients of the IMT group who underwent colectomy. The total colectomy rate in UC patients positive for CMV was 35.5% (11/31). In addition, colectomy-free survival in the CMV relapse (+) group was estimated to be 12.9% at 65 months, while that in the CMV relapse (-) group was estimated to be 100% at 60 months.

Conclusion: The colectomy ratio tends to be high in refractory UC patients with recurrent CMV reactivation or infection. Therefore, GMA might be a safe and effective treatment for UC patients positive for CMV because it does not induce CMV reactivation.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adsorption
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antiviral Agents / administration & dosage
  • Colectomy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / mortality
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / virology
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / mortality
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / therapy*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • Cytomegalovirus*
  • Ganciclovir / administration & dosage
  • Granulocytes / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Leukapheresis*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Ganciclovir