Introduction: Treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC) is constantly evolving. In the last two decades, new therapeutic strategies have been implemented by addressing specific disease mechanisms: biological agents against tumor necrosis factor-α and integrins are now widely used, and more agents targeting different pathological pathways are being marketed. Despite these novel therapies, nonbiological drugs are still the mainstay of treatment, especially in mild-to-moderate disease, since a proven safety and tolerability profile is observed. Excellent efficacy both in induction and maintenance of remission is obtained, with a lower cost compared to biological agents.
Areas covered: The purpose of this review is to summarize the current knowledge and the latest clinical evidence regarding nonbiological therapies for UC.
Expert opinion: Concomitant administration of oral and rectal 5-aminosalicylates acid is more effective in the treatment of UC in remission. Corticosteroids are the treatment of choice in patients with moderately severe or severe UC. The association of azathioprine with biological treatments is more effective than monotherapy. Cyclosporine is an effective drug in severe UC, but its poor management must be considered. Probiotics are very popular; however, evidence on their actual role in UC still must be demonstrated; cytapheresis plays only a niche role at this time.
Keywords: 5-ASA; AZA; IBD; UC; colitis; conventional; conventional therapy; non-biological; ulcerative; ulcerative colitis.