Adsorptive granulocyte/monocyte apheresis for the maintenance of remission in patients with ulcerative colitis: a prospective randomized, double blind, sham-controlled clinical trial

Gut Liver. 2012 Oct;6(4):427-33. doi: 10.5009/gnl.2012.6.4.427. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Background/aims: Weekly granulocyte/monocyte adsorption (GMA) to deplete elevated and activated leucocytes should serve as a non-pharmacological intervention to induce remission in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). This trial assessed the efficacy of monthly GMA as a maintenance therapy to suppress UC relapse.

Methods: Thirty-three corticosteroid refractory patients with active UC received 10 weekly GMA sessions as a remission induction therapy. They were then randomized to receive one GMA session every 4 weeks (True, n=11), extracorporeal circulation without the GMA column every 4 weeks (Sham, n=11), or no additional intervention (Control, n=11). The primary endpoint was the rate of avoiding relapse (AR) over 48 weeks.

Results: At week 48, the AR rates in the True, Sham, and Control groups were 40.0%, 9.1%, and 18.2%, respectively. All patients were steroid-free, but no statistically significant difference was seen among the three arms. However, in patients who could taper their prednisolone dose to <20 mg/day during the remission induction therapy, the AR in the True group was better than in the Sham (p<0.03) or Control (p<0.05) groups.

Conclusions: Monthly GMA may potentially prevent UC relapse in patients who have achieved remission through weekly GMA, especially in patients on <20 mg/day PSL at the start of the maintenance therapy.

Keywords: Granulocyte monocyte apheresis; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Maintenance treatment; Randomized controlled trial; Ulcerative colitis.