Scientific corner

Treating Inflammatory Bowel Disease by Adsorptive Leucocytapheresis: A Desire to Treat without Drugs

Abbi R Saniabadi 1Tomotaka Tanaka 1Toshihide Ohmori 1Koji Sawada 1Takayuki Yamamoto 1Hiroyuki Hanai  World J gastroenterol. 2014 Aug 7;20(29):9699-715

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.

Scientific corner

Leucocyte apheresis in the treatment of paediatric ulcerative colitis

Tarja RuuskaMarja-Leena LähdeahoYelda SutasMerja AshornJuhani Grönlund Scand J Gastroenterol 2007 Nov; 42(11):1390-1. doi: 10.1080/00365520701231116.

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.

Scientific corner

Therapeutic leukocytapheresis for inflammatory bowel disease

Abbi R.Saniabadi, HiroyukiHanai, KenFukunaga, KojiSawada, ChikakoShima, IngvarBjarnason, RobertLofberg,

The inference that granulocytes and monocytes/macrophages (GM) are part of the immunopathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and hence should be targets of therapy stems from observations of elevated, and activated GM in patients with IBD. The Adacolumn can selectively deplete GM by adsorption (GMA) and in patients with IBD. GMA has been associated with significant clinical efficacy together with sustained suppression of inflammatory cytokine profiles. Additionally, GMA depleted proinflammatory CD14+CD16+ monocytes and was followed by an increase in CD4+ T lymphocytes including the regulatory CD4+CD25high+Foxp3 phenotype. Hence, GMA could be a non-pharmacologic therapy for IBD with potential to spare steroids and other unsafe pharmacologic preparations.

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