Scientific corner

Safety and clinical efficacy of granulocyte and monocyte adsorptive apheresis therapy for ulcerative colitis

Takayuki Yamamoto, Satoru Umegae, Koichi Matsumoto February 2006 World Journal of Gastroenterology 12(4):520-5 DOI:10.3748/wjg.v12.i4.520

Active ulcerative colitis (UC) is frequently associated with infiltration of a large number of leukocytes into the bowel mucosa. Therefore, removal of activated circulating leukocytes by apheresis has the potential for improving UC. In Japan, since April 2000, leukocytapheresis using Adacolumn has been approved as the treatment for active UC by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The Adacolumn is an extracorporeal leukocyte apheresis device filled with cellulose acetate beads, and selectively adsorbs granulocytes and monocytes / macrophages. To assess the safety and clinical efficacy of granulocyte and monocyte adsorptive apheresis (GMCAP) for UC, we reviewed 10 open trials of the use of GMCAP to treat UC. One apheresis session (session time, 60 min) per week for five consecutive weeks (a total of five apheresis sessions) has been a standard protocol. Several studies used modified protocols with two sessions per week, with 90-min session, or with a total of 10 apheresis sessions. Typical adverse reactions were dizziness, nausea, headache, flushing, and fever. No serious adverse effects were reported during and after GMCAP therapy, and almost all the patients could complete the treatment course. GMCAP is safe and well-tolerated. In the majority of patients, GMCAP therapy achieved clinical remission or improvement. GMCAP is a useful alternative therapy for patients with steroid-refractory or -dependent UC. GMCAP should have the potential to allow tapering the dose of steroids, and is useful for shortening the time to remission and avoiding re-administration of steroids at the time of relapse. Furthermore, GMCAP may have efficacy as the first-line therapy for steroid-naive patients or patients who have the first attack of UC. However, most of the previous studies were uncontrolled trials. To assess a definite efficacy of GMCAP, randomized, double blind, sham-controlled trials are necessary. A serious problem with GMCAP is cost; a single session costs ¥145 000 ($1 300). However, if this treatment prevents hospital admission, re-administration of steroids and surgery, and improves a quality of life of the patients, GMCAP may prove to be cost-effective.

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