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Maintaining infliximab induced clinical remission with azathioprine and 5-aminosalicylates in acute

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

Maintaining infliximab induced clinical remission with azathioprine and 5-aminosalicylates in acute severe steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis has lower cost and high efficacy (MIRACLE): a multicenter study Mahajan R, Singh A, Kedia S, Kaur K, , Sahu P, Mehta V, Singh D, Bansal N, Dharni K, Kaushal S, Ahuja V, Sood A Published Feb 2021, in the Intestinal research


Background/aims: Infliximab (IFX) has been used to induce and maintain remission in patients with severe steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis (UC). Long-term use of biologics in developing countries is limited by high cost and frequent side effects. An optimal maintenance strategy in these patients needs to be established. Methods: A retrospective analysis of maintenance of clinical remission with combination of azathioprine (AZA) and 5-aminosalicylates (5-ASA) in patients with severe steroidrefractory UC where IFX (5 mg/kg intravenously at weeks 0, 2, 6) had been used only as an induction therapy was done at 2 centers in India. Primary outcome was the proportion of patients maintaining corticosteroid-free sustained clinical remission (SCR) at the end of study period. Rates of relapse and cost of therapy were also analyzed. Results: Of the 137 patients who received rescue IFX induction therapy, 77 (56.2%) achieved clinical remission (mean age 34.81 ± 13.32 years, 68.83% males, median follow-up 4 years, range 3 months to 6 years) and were included. Cumulative corticosteroid-free SCR was maintained in 68%, 59%, 42%, and 35% patients at 1, 2, 4, and 6 years respectively. Sixty-seven relapses were observed in 33 patients. Majority of the relapses (45/67, 67.16%) occurred within first 2 years of follow-up. Two relapses were managed with re-induction with IFX, one required colectomy, whereas all other responded to repeat course(s) of corticosteroids. Annual per capita maintenance therapy with 5-ASA and AZA was cheaper by US$ 4,526 compared to maintaining remission with IFX. Conclusions: Clinical remission achieved with IFX induction therapy in severe steroid-refractory UC can be sustained over long time with a combination of AZA and 5-ASA.

Keywords: Azathioprine; Colitis, ulcerative; Infliximab; Maintenance; Mesalamine.


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