Background: Therapeutic monoclonal anti-cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) antibodies are associated with immune-mediated enterocolitis. The aim of this study was to provide a detailed description of this entity.
Methods: We included patients with endoscopic signs of inflammation after anti-CTLA-4 infusions for cancer treatment. Other causes of enterocolitis were excluded. Clinical, biological and endoscopic data were recorded. A single pathologist reviewed endoscopic biopsies and colectomy specimens from 27 patients. Patients with and without enterocolitis after ipilimumab-treated melanoma were compared, to identify clinical factors associated with enterocolitis.
Results: Thirty-nine patients with anti-CTLA-4 enterocolitis were included (ipilimumab n = 37; tremelimumab n = 2). The most frequent symptom was diarrhoea. Ten patients had extra-intestinal manifestations. Most colonoscopies showed ulcerations involving the rectum and sigmoid, 66% of patients had extensive colitis, 55% had patchy distribution and 20% had ileal inflammation. Endoscopic colonic biopsies showed acute colitis in most patients, while half of the patients had chronic duodenitis. Thirty-five patients received steroids that led to complete clinical remission in 13 patients (37%). Twelve patients required infliximab, of whom 10 (83%) responded. Six patients underwent colectomy (perforation n = 5; toxic megacolon n = 1); one of them died postoperatively. Four patients had a persistent enterocolitis at follow-up colonoscopy. Patients with enterocolitis were more frequently prescribed NSAIDs compared with patients without enterocolitis (31 vs 5%, p = 0.003).
Conclusions: Ipilimumab and tremelimumab may induce a severe and extensive form of inflammatory bowel disease. Rapid escalation to infliximab should be advocated in patients who do not respond to steroids. Patients treated with anti-CTLA-4 should be advised to avoid NSAIDs.
Keywords: Anti-CTLA-4; enterocolitis; ipilimumab.
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