Leucocyte apheresis in the treatment of paediatric ulcerative colitis
Recent studies show corticosteroid dependency in 45% of paediatric ulcerative colitis (UC) patients despite using other medicaments, including immunomodulators This patient group is problematic as corticosteroids have numerous side effects when used long term. New biological approaches have proved effective in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but as the side effects can be severe, especially in young patients, their use is restricted in UC.
In UC, circulating activated granulocytes and macrophages/monocytes are increased and can infiltrate the bowel and cause tissue injury by producing inflammatory cytokines, being thus involved in the initiation and perpetuation of an inflammatory disorder. Periodic removal of activated granulocytes and monocytes/ macrophages with selective leucocyte apheresis (Adacolumn; JIMRO, Japan) is expected to reduce leucocyte-dependent tissue injury. Preliminary reports show promising results in the treatment of IBD, in children with corticosteroid-dependent or -resistant UC.
We design a pilot study where 11 children (7 corticosteroid-dependent, 3 corticosteroid-resistant and 1 refusing corticosteroids) were treated with apheresis and their data analysed. Treatment was given once a week, a total of 5-9 sessions. 8 out of the remaining 11 patients responded well to the treatment. Corticosteroids could be tapered-off either totally or to minimal doses in all cases. Treatment was well tolerated.
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