Objective: To determine outcome following treatment of refractory Crohn's disease with intravenous (i.v.) cyclosporine (CYA).
Methods: The medical records of 18 patients with refractory Crohn's disease treated with i.v. CYA were reviewed. Nine patients had refractory inflammatory Crohn's disease and nine patients had complex fistulizing Crohn's disease. All patients were initially treated with i.v. CYA (4 mg/kg/day). Patients who responded were converted to standard oral CYA. Patient outcomes were classified as complete response, partial response, or nonresponse.
Results: Four of nine patients with severe inflammatory Crohn's disease and seven of nine patients with fistulizing Crohn's disease had a partial response to i.v. CYA. Four of four responding patients in the inflammatory group and four of six responding patients in the fistulizing group (plus one initial nonresponder) maintained or improved their response during oral CYA therapy. After discontinuing oral CYA, all four patients in the inflammatory group and five of seven patients in the fistulizing group relapsed despite 1-17 wk of concomitant treatment with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine (AZA/6MP). Two patients who received overlapping CYA and AZA/6MP for 17 and 23 wk maintained long-term responses. CYA toxicity was minimal: reversible nephrotoxicity (n = 2), headache (n = 2), oral candidiasis (n = 1), paresthesia (n = 2).
Conclusions: I.v. CYA appears to benefit both refractory inflammatory and fistulizing Crohn's disease. Most patients who respond to i.v. CYA will maintain their response during oral CYA therapy. However, the majority of these patients relapse when oral CYA is discontinued, probably because of inadequate duration of overlap with the slow acting maintenance drugs, AZA/6MP.