Effectiveness of Cytapheresis for Ulcerative Colitis in Special Situations: Delayed Onset of Optimum Efficacy in Elderly Patients

Digestion. 2020;101(1):46-52. doi: 10.1159/000504091. Epub 2019 Nov 13.


Background: Cytapheresis is a non-pharmacologic treatment option in which depleting elevated/activated leucocytes is known to exacerbate and perpetuate ulcerative colitis (UC) by releasing inflammatory cytokines. Therefore, it is a relevant treatment for elderly patients who wish to avoid pharmacologicals.

Methods: The efficacy of Cytapheresis for remission induction in 72 patients who received Cytapheresis for active UC at our hospital was retrospectively evaluated. Patients included 11 elderly cases, patients on steroids, biologics, calcineurin inhibitor, and 13 with extra-intestinal complications. Lichtiger's UC clinical activity index ≤4 meant remission was assessed at the end of therapy and then 1 month later. The efficacy on extra-intestinal manifestations meant improvement of the main morbidity.

Results: At the end of Cytapheresis therapy, the remission rate in the elderly was 36.4%, and 54.2% in the non-elderly patients. One-month post Cytapheresis, the remission rate in the elderly had increased to 72.7% (p = 0.042), but to 58.3% in the non-elderly, suggesting a delayed response phenomenon in the elderly. The efficacy of Cytapheresis in 4 cases with loss of response to biologics was 75%, and 84.6% in the 13 patients with extra-intestinal complications, indicating a dramatic efficacy on dermatitis and arthralgia.

Conclusions: Unlike pharmacologicals, the efficacy of Cytapheresis appears to be time dependent. Accordingly, in the elderly, we observed a delayed response, indicating that elderly patients may respond beyond the end of Cytapheresis therapy. Therefore, patients who do not show efficacy at the end of Cytapheresis therapy should be followed up for delayed response. Further, Cytapheresis is favored by patients for its good safety profile.

Keywords: Cytapheresis; Elderly patient; Ulcerative colitis.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aftercare
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Cytapheresis / methods*
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Leukapheresis / methods
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Biological Products
  • Cytokines
  • Immunosuppressive Agents