Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f. versus azathioprine for prevention of postoperative recurrence in patients with Crohn's disease: a randomized clinical trial

Dig Liver Dis. 2015 Jan;47(1):14-9. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2014.09.008. Epub 2014 Oct 30.


Background: Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f. (TwHF) has been used for many years to induce the remission of Crohn's disease in China.

Aims: To compare TwHF versus azathioprine for the prevention of postoperative recurrence in Crohn's disease.

Methods: 90 Crohn's disease patients who had undergone resection were treated with TwHF 1.5mg/kg/day or azathioprine 2.0 mg/kg/day. The primary endpoint was clinical recurrence, and the secondary endpoint was endoscopic recurrence.

Results: 47 patients completed the trial. Clinical recurrence was observed in 6/45 patients in the TwHF group and 4/45 patients in the azathioprine group at week 26 (P=0.74). At week 52, 8/45 azathioprine patients and 12/45 TwHF patients had clinical recurrence (P = 0.45). During the first 26 weeks, 56.8% of the patients in the TwHF group versus 47.7% in the azathioprine group experienced endoscopic recurrence (P = 0.52). However, at week 52, 74.4% of patients in the TwHF group and 50% in the azathioprine group had endoscopic recurrence (P = 0.03).

Conclusions: TwHF was less effective in maintaining endoscopic remission at week 52, even though TwHF was comparable to azathioprine for preventing postoperative clinical recurrence.

Keywords: Azathioprine; Crohn's disease; Postoperative recurrence; Tripterygium wilfordii Hook. f..

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use*
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / prevention & control*
  • Crohn Disease / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Phytotherapy / methods*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Recurrence
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tripterygium*
  • Young Adult


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Azathioprine