Treatment of Crohn's disease by lymphocyte apheresis: a randomized controlled trial. Groupe d'Etudes Thérapeutiques des Affections Inflammatoires Digestives

Gastroenterology. 1994 Aug;107(2):357-61. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(94)90159-7.


Background/aims: Several uncontrolled trials suggest that lymphapheresis improves the clinical course of patients with Crohn's disease; this study was designed to assess the efficacy of lymphapheresis in preventing early relapses of Crohn's disease in patients in clinical remission after steroid treatment for an acute attack.

Methods: Twenty-eight patients in clinical remission at the end of 3-7 weeks of steroid therapy were included in this randomized multicenter prospective trial. Before starting steroid tapering, patients were randomly assigned either to the lymphapheresis group (9 procedures within 4-5 weeks) or to the control group. The primary judgement criterion was the cumulated recurrence rate after steroid discontinuation.

Results: All the patients treated by lymphapheresis (12 of 12) were successfully withdrawn from prednisolone and only 10 of 15 in the control group (NS). At the end of the 18-month follow-up period, the cumulated relapse rate was 83% in the lymphapheresis group and 62% in the control group.

Conclusions: Although there was a trend towards a diminished incidence of corticosteroid dependence, lymphapheresis did not prevent the occurrence of early relapses.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy
  • Crohn Disease / prevention & control
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Female
  • France
  • Humans
  • Leukapheresis*
  • Male
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recurrence
  • Remission Induction


  • Prednisolone