Background: Several small, prospective, open studies suggest that leukocytapheresis might be efficient in patients with steroid-dependent ulcerative colitis (UC).
Aim: To evaluate the short- and long-term effectiveness of leukocytapheresis for the management of steroid-dependent UC in clinical practice.
Methods: A Web-based, nationwide database specifically designed to record the efficacy and safety data of leukocytapheresis therapy in UC was available from September 2007 in Spain. Clinical data were collected at treatment baseline, 1 month after the last apheresis session (initial efficacy), and 6 and 12 months thereafter (long-term efficacy). Remission was defined as a Mayo Clinic index ≤2 together with complete steroid withdrawal and response as a decrease of ≥3 from the baseline score.
Results: A total of 142 steroid-dependent UC patients were included in the registry, most of them treated with the Adacolumn™ system. In 69% of patients thiopurine therapy failed to achieve steroid-free clinical remission. Initial clinical remission was obtained in 37% of cases. The initial corticosteroid dose, the number and frequency of apheresis sessions, or the previous failure of thiopurines and/or infliximab did not influence the initial remission rate, but a greater decrease in CRP levels was associated with a higher probability to obtain initial remission. At 6 and 12 months, 41 and 36% of patients were in clinical remission, respectively. Only one serious adverse effect was recorded.
Conclusions: In clinical practice, apheresis allows long-term steroid-free clinical remission in up to one third of steroid-dependent UC patients, even in those with prior failure of thiopurines.