Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Adsorptive Leucocytapheresis: A Desire to Treat without Drugs
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the major phenotypes of the idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which afflicts millions of individuals throughout the world with debilitating symptoms, impairing function and quality of life. Current medications are aimed at reducing the symptoms or suppressing exacerbations. However, patients require life-long medications, and this can lead to drug dependency, loss of response together with adverse side effects. Indeed, drug side effects become additional morbidity factor in many patients on long-term medications. Nonetheless, the efficacy of anti-tumour necrosis factors (TNF)-α biologics has validated the role of inflammatory cytokines notably TNF-α in the exacerbation of IBD. However, inflammatory cytokines are released by patients’ own cellular elements including myeloid lineage leucocytes, which in patients with IBD are elevated with activation behaviour and prolonged survival. Accordingly, these leucocytes appear logical targets of therapy and can be depleted by adsorptive granulocyte/monocyte apheresis (GMA) with an Adacolumn. Based on this background, recently GMA has been applied to treat patients with IBD in Japan and in the European Union countries. Efficacy rates have been impressive as well as disappointing. In fact the clinical response to GMA seems to define the patients’ disease course, response to medications, duration of active disease, and severity at entry. The best responders have been first episode cases (up to 100%) followed by steroid naïve and patients with a short duration of active disease prior to GMA. Patients with deep ulcers together with extensive loss of the mucosal tissue and cases with a long duration of IBD refractory to existing medications are not likely to benefit from GMA. It is clinically interesting that patients who respond to GMA have a good long-term disease course by avoiding drugs including corticosteroids in the early stage of their IBD. Additionally, GMA is very much favoured by patients for its good safety profile. GMA in 21st century reminds us of phlebotomy as a major medical practice at the time of Hippocrates. However, in patients with IBD, there is a scope for removing from the body the sources of pro-inflammatory cytokines and achieve disease remission. The bottom line is that by introducing GMA at an early stage following the onset of IBD or before patients develop extensive mucosal damage and become refractory to medications, many patients should respond to GMA and avoid pharmacologics. This should fulfill the desire to treat without drugs.
Looking for predictive factors of clinical response to adsorptive granulocyte and monocyte apheresis in patients with ulcerative colitis: markers of response to GMA.
Yoko Yokoyama, Mikio Kawai, Ken Fukunaga, Koji Kamikozuru, Kazuko Nagase, Koji Nogami, Tomoaki Kono,Yoshio Ohda, Masaki Iimuro, Nobuyuki Hida, Shiro Nakamura, Hiroto Miwa and Takayuki Matsumoto, Yokoyama et al. BMC Gastroenterology 2013
In this study, patients with a short duration of UC and low cumulative PSL dose seemed to respond well to GMA. However, we found that the best responders were patients who received GMA immediately after a clinical relapse. Additionally, GMA was effective in patients with low WBC count at the first GMA session. The findings of this study should spare medical cost and reduce morbidity time for many patients, relevant for decision making in clinical settings.
Current status and future perspectives of leukocytapheresis for inflammatory bowel disease.
Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD) comprise the idiopathic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) of the gut. The etiology of IBD is poorly understood, but an autoimmune disturbance has been suggested to play an important role in this incurable disease. Extracorporeal leukocytapheresis (CAP) is an additional adjunct for IBD patients refractory to other conventional therapies, including steroids. The primary aim of CAP should be to suppress such unwanted immunological response by removing circulating inflammatory cells from the blood stream. The first decade has been passed since CAP was approved by Japanese social health insurance policy. It is therefore now an appropriate opportunity to upgrade and summarize our current understandings and/or future perspectives of this unique non-pharmacological and non-surgical strategy for IBD patients. According to several clinical and basic research reports, an early introduction of CAP should produce higher efficacy as compared with CAP applied sometime after a clinical relapse. Likewise, CAP therapy adjusted to patients’ body-weight as well as two treatment sessions per week (intensive regimen) should benefit the efficacy rate. The etiology of IBD is not fully elucidated yet. As a result, the major therapeutic strategies in the Western world have been immunosuppressive therapy, including biologics. CAP is an unusual treatment modality for IBD because it seems to have both effectiveness and safety, which should generally be balanced in this type of illness. We now have to develop future strategies with and without combining biologics to improve the quality of life of IBD patients.
Long-term clinical impact of early introduction of granulocyte and monocyte adsorptive apheresis in new onset, moderately active, extensive ulcerative colitis
in patients with the first UC episode, GMA therapy at an early stage significantly reduces steroid administration and steroid-dependency in the long-term clinical course.
A retrospective search for predictors of clinical response to selective granulocyte and monocyte apheresis in patients with ulcerative colitis
Recently, selective granulocytapheresis (Adacolumn) has appeared as a new treatment for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. This study sought to determine predictors of response to this new nonpharmacologic mode of therapy by retrospectively evaluating 28 patients who received granulocytapheresis after experiencing active ulcerative colitis (UC). Between April 2000 and March 2004, 28 consecutive patients received granulocytapheresis for active UC with the Adacolumn, which is filled with cellulose acetate beads as the column leukocytapheresis carriers; the carriers adsorb granulocytes, monocytes/macrophages, and a small fraction of lymphocytes (FcgammaR and complement receptors bearing leukocytes). Each patient could receive up to 10 Adacolumn sessions, at 2 sessions per week. In 2004, clinical response was retrospectively evaluated. Seven days after the last Adacolumn session, 20 of 28 patients had remission (colitis activity index [CAI] < or =4) including all 8 patients who had their first UC episode. The mean duration of UC in the 8 first episode cases was 3.4 months compared with 40.2 months for all 28 patients and 65.4 months for the 8 nonresponders. The response to Adacolumn was independent of basal CAI. The 8 nonresponders were given conventional medication (CM) or cyclosporine (CsA) if the former failed. Two responded to CM, 3 to CsA, and 3 underwent colectomy. First UC episode and short disease duration appear good predictors of response to granulocytapheresis. Selective granulocytapheresis might be an effective first-line treatment.
Treating ulcerative colitis without medications “Look Mom, no drugs!”
Clinical response rates in uncontrolled inflammatory bowel disease studies have commonly run in the 30%–50% range; as a result, early uncontrolled trials need validation from adequately blinded randomized trials before widespread application of such novel therapies. Although the long-term maintenance data from this study (60% at 8 months) is encouraging, further studies of the optimal interval for repeating apheresis for reinduction of remission or maintenance arealso in order. The potential for apheresis-based therapies as either a stand-alone strategy or in combination with other proven therapies in
the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases also needs to be further elucidated. The promise of “no medications” for effective therapy in the treatment of ulcerative colitis is enticing, and perhaps a step closer, but clearly needs to be substantiated by larger controlled trials.
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