Features predicting colchicine efficacy in treatment of children with undefined systemic autoinflammatory disease: A retrospective cohort study

Eur J Rheumatol. 2022 Jul;9(3):116-121. doi: 10.5152/eurjrheum.2022.21135.


Objective: Patients with undefined systemic autoinflammatory diseases (uSAIDs) are challenging to manage, as there are no guidelines or recommendations for targeted therapy. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of empiric treatment with colchicine in our single-center uSAID population in the United States, as well as the patient characteristics associated with the most robust colchicine response.

Methods: Children with uSAID 18 years old at initial evaluation during 2000-2019 were included if they received 3 months of colchicine therapy. Data on demographics, clinical features, laboratory/ genetic studies, and treatment responses were collected. Most statistics were based on chi-square analyses for categorical data. Complete response to colchicine was defined as resolution of episodes or the presence of minor residual symptoms that did not require any further therapy. A partial response was defined as a decrease in the frequency, severity, or length of episodes but still necessitating additional therapy. Patients were considered nonresponders if they did not experience any improvement with colchicine at target therapeutic dosing.

Results: We identified 133 children diagnosed with uSAID who met our inclusion criteria. The median time to starting empiric colchicine was 5 months from the diagnosis of autoinflammatory disease. 92.5% (n = 123) of patients had a beneficial response to colchicine, including 46.6% (n = 62) partial responders and 45.9% (n = 61) complete responders. The presence of a nonurticarial rash was associated with an incomplete colchicine response (29.2% (n = 21) vs 13.1% (n = 8), P = .025). The presence of a heterozygous MEFV mutation in patients who did not fit Familial Mediterranean Fever diagnostic criteria (n = 25) appeared to be associated with a greater likelihood of complete colchicine response, although this was not statistically significant (62.5% (n = 14) vs 42.6% (n =11), P = .08). In MEFV mutation-negative patients, a nonurticarial rash was even more strongly associated with incomplete colchicine response, with an OR of 27.53 (CI [1.59-477], P = .023). The presence of oral ulcers also corresponded to incomplete colchicine response, although this did not reach clinical significance (38.9% (n = 28) vs 24.6% (n = 15), P = .08). There was no significant association between episode duration or frequency and colchicine response.

Conclusion: Colchicine leads to clinical benefits in most children with uSAID. We, thus, recommend an early trial of colchicine in newly diagnosed patients with uSAID.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Colchicine / therapeutic use
  • Exanthema* / drug therapy
  • Familial Mediterranean Fever* / diagnosis
  • Familial Mediterranean Fever* / drug therapy
  • Familial Mediterranean Fever* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Pyrin / genetics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • MEFV protein, human
  • Pyrin
  • Colchicine