Leucocytapheresis for inflammatory bowel disease in the era of biologic therapy
The development of biologicals such as infliximab to intercept TNF-alpha validates the current perception that certain cytokines are major factors in the immunopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. Furthermore, major sources of inflammatory cytokines include activated peripheral granulocytes and monocytes (GM), which in patients with IBD are elevated with increased survival time and are found in vast numbers within the inflamed intestinal mucosa. Hence, elevated GM should be appropriate targets of therapy in IBD. Accordingly, in recent years technologies such as the Adacolumn have been developed for selective depletion of elevated GM by extracorporeal adsorption (GMA). Published data show that GMA in patients with steroid-dependent or steroid-refractory IBD is associated with striking efficacy and tapering or discontinuation of steroids, whereas in steroid-naïve patients GMA spared patients from steroids. Likewise, GMA at appropriate intervals in patients at a high risk of clinical relapse significantly suppressed relapse, thus sparing the patients from the morbidity associated with active IBD. First ulcerative colitis episode, steroid naivety and short disease duration seem to be good predictors of response to GMA and on the basis of our experience, GMA seems to have an excellent safety profile.
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