Topical steroids in eosinophilic esophagitis: Systematic review and meta-analysis of placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Jun;31(6):1111-9. doi: 10.1111/jgh.13281.


Background and aims: Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) is a clinicopathologic condition characterized by symptoms of esophageal dysfunction in the presence of eosinophil-predominant inflammation of esophageal mucosa. Topical steroids are recommended as first line pharmacologic therapy in EoE. We aimed to determine the efficacy of topical steroids in inducing histologic and clinical remission in children and adults with EoE.

Methods: We performed a systematic search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE, Scopus, and Cochrane library databases for studies investigating the efficacy of topical steroids in EoE. We collected data on the number of patients, dose and duration of therapy, complete and partial histological response, and clinical improvement. We performed meta-analysis of placebo-controlled randomized clinical trials using Review Manager version 5.2. We used funnel plots to evaluate for publication bias.

Results: Five studies that included 174 patients with EoE were included in the meta-analysis. Topical fluticasone was administered in three studies involving 114 patients, and topical budesonide in two studies involving 60 patients. Patients treated with topical steroids, as compared with placebo, had higher complete histological remission (odds ratio [OR] 20.81, 95% confidence interval [CI] 7.03, 61.63) and partial histological remission (OR 32.20, 95% CI 6.82, 152.04). There was a trend towards improvement in clinical symptoms with topical steroids as compared with placebo but it did not reach statistical significance (OR 2.72, 95 %CI 0.90, 8.23).

Conclusions: Topical corticosteroids seem to be effective in inducing histological remission but may not have similar significant impact in improving clinical symptoms of EoE. Studies with large sample size are needed to uniformly validate symptom improvement in EoE.

Keywords: budesonide; dysphagia; eosinophilic esophagitis; fluticasone; topical steroids.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Budesonide / administration & dosage*
  • Budesonide / adverse effects
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / diagnosis
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / drug therapy*
  • Eosinophilic Esophagitis / physiopathology
  • Esophageal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Esophageal Mucosa / pathology
  • Esophagus / drug effects*
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Esophagus / physiopathology
  • Fluticasone / administration & dosage*
  • Fluticasone / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Odds Ratio
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Remission Induction
  • Steroids / administration & dosage*
  • Steroids / adverse effects
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Steroids
  • Budesonide
  • Fluticasone