Therapeutic effect of intensive granulocyte and monocyte adsorption apheresis combined with thiopurines for steroid- and biologics-naïve Japanese patients with early-diagnosed Crohn's disease

BMC Gastroenterol. 2014 Jul 11:13:124. doi: 10.1186/1471-230X-14-124.


Background: Early induction with biologics can reduce complications in patients with Crohn's disease (CD) and improve their quality of life. The safety of biologics, however, is uncertain. Granulocyte and monocyte adsorptive apheresis (GMAA) is a natural biologic therapy that selectively removes granulocytes and monocytes/macrophages and has few severe adverse effects. The effects of GMAA on patients with early-diagnosed CD are unclear. We investigated the effects of GMAA combined with thiopurines on patients with early-diagnosed CD.

Methods: Twenty-two corticosteroid- and biologic-naïve patients with active early-diagnosed CD were treated with intensive GMAA (twice per week) combined with thiopurines administration. Active early-diagnosed CD was defined as follows: (i) within 2years after diagnosis of CD, (ii) with no history of both surgical treatment and endoscopic dilation therapy, and (iii) Crohn's Disease Activity Index (CDAI) was higher than 200. We investigated the ratios of clinical remission defined as CDAI was less than or equal to 150 at 2, 4, 6 and 52weeks and mucosal healing defined as a Simplified Endoscopic Activity Score for Crohn's Disease (SES-CD) as 0 at 6 and 52weeks. Adverse events were recorded at each visit.

Results: The ratios of clinical remission at 2, 4, and 6 weeks were 6 of 22 (27.2%), 12 of 22 (54.5%), and 17 of 22 (77.2%), respectively. At 52 weeks, 18 of 21 patients (81.8%) were in clinical remission. The ratios of mucosal healing at 6 and 52 weeks were 5 of 22 (22.7%) and 11 of 22 (50%), respectively. The difference in the mucosal healing ratio was significant between 6 and 52 weeks (p = 0.044). No serious adverse effects were observed during this study.

Conclusions: Combination therapy with intensive GMAA and thiopurines administration rapidly induced high remission in patients with active early-diagnosed CD without serious adverse effect. Mucosal healing was observed in 50.0% of enrolled patients. This combination therapy might be a rational option for patients with early-diagnosed CD.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use*
  • Blood Component Removal / methods*
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / pathology
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Granulocytes
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Macrophages
  • Monocytes
  • Prospective Studies
  • Remission Induction


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Azathioprine