Treatment of children and adolescents with ulcerative colitis by adsorptive depletion of myeloid lineage leucocytes as monotherapy or in combination with low dose prednisolone after failure of first-line medications.
Background: Currently available drugs for the treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC) include salicylates, thiopurines, corticosteroids and new anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α biologics. Among these medications, corticosteroids in children and adolescents may adversely affect the patients’ growth and development. Further, UC patients have elevated and activated myeloid lineage leucocytes including the CD14 + CD16+ monocytes, which release TNF-α as a significant exacerbating factor. Accordingly, depletion of these cells by granulocyte/monocyte adsorption (GMA) should alleviate inflammation and promote UC remission. The objective of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of GMA in children and adolescents in whom conventional first-line medications had failed to induce remission. Methods: In a single centre setting, between 2007 and 2012, a total of 24 consecutive children and adolescents, age 11-19 years were given mesalazine or sulphasalazine as a first-line medication. Seventeen patients relapsed or did not respond to the first-line medications, and received GMA with the Adacolumn, 2 sessions in the first week, and then weekly, up to 11 sessions. Patients who achieved a decrease of ≥5 in the clinical activity index (CAI) were to continue with GMA, while non-responders were to receive 0.5 to 1.0 mg/kg/day prednisolone (PSL) plus additional GMA sessions similar to GMA responder cases. At entry and week 12, patients were clinically and endoscopically evaluated, allowing each patient to serve as her/his own control. Results: Seven patients achieved remission with the first-line medications and did not receive GMA. Five patients did not respond to the first 5 GMA sessions and received PSL plus GMA, while 12 patients responded to the first 5 GMA sessions and received additional sessions. At entry, the average CAI was 12.7 ± 2.5, range 8-17, and the average endoscopic index was 8.5 ± 1.5, range 7-11. The corresponding values at week 12 were 2.1 ± 0.2, range 1-4 (P < 0.001) and 2.4 ± 0.2, range 1-4 (P < 0.001). PSL was tapered to 0 mg within 3 months. Conclusions: With the strategy we applied in this study, all 24 consecutive patients achieved remission. In growing patients with active UC refractory to first-line medications, GMA was associated with clinical remission and mucosal healing, while in non-responders to GMA monotherapy, addition of a low dose PSL enhanced the efficacy of GMA and tapering of the PSL dose soon after remission was not associated with UC relapse. Therefore, the majority of young corticosteroid naive UC patients in whom first-line salicylates have failed may respond to GMA and be spared from additional drug therapy. Avoiding corticosteroids at an early stage of UC should ensure better long-term clinical course.
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