Treatments for “Bad” Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Part 3)

D Tarabar et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2022; 28: 1549-1554. A Prospective Trial with Long Term Follow-up of Patients With Severe, Steroid-Resistant Ulcerative Colitis Who Received Induction Therapy With Cyclosporine and Were Maintained With Vedolizumab

As noted previously, in my view, “bad” inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occurs when treatments are not working; though, many would argue that any IBD is bad IBD. Today’s post concludes several reviewed articles that focus on the problem of IBD that is not responding well to treatment.

Methods: Seventeen steroid-resistant adult UC patients were treated with cyclosporine in combination with vedolizumab, with a follow up of 52 weeks. Only 2 patients in this chort had failed infliximab therapy. The authors administered IV cyclosporine at a dose of “2 to 4 mg/kg/d IV for 7 days, titrated to a goal trough level of 300 to 400 ng/mL.” In those with a response, patients were started on oral therapy along with IV vedolizumab. During oral therapy (for 8 weeks), goal trough levels were 150 to 250 ng/mL (measured weekly).

Key findings:

  • Fifteen (88%) of 17 patients initially responded to cyclosporine and were started on vedolizumab
  • At week 10, 11 (73%) of 15 patients had achieved endoscopic remission with a Mayo score of ≤1. 
  • At week 26, 14 (93%) of 15 of the patients were in clinical remission and 11 (73%) were in endoscopic remission.
  • At week 52 of follow-up, 10 (71%) of 14 of these patients continued to be in endoscopic remission and 11 (79%) of 14 were in clinical remission.
  • Colectomy-free survival rate was 82% (n = 14 of 17) at 1 year and mean C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and fecal calprotectin levels were 3.2 mg/L, 16.1 mm/h, and 168.3 µg/g, respectively

My take: Cyclosporine is a fast-acting medication and thus appropriate as a salvage therapy in those with severe disease. Concerns for adverse effects have led most pediatric GIs to favor infliximab for refractory severe UC. However, in selected patients, it could be a useful “bridge” to slower-acting long-term treatments. It is possible (likely) that insurance issues would be less with cyclosporine than tofacitinib as a bridge therapy.

**An alternative agent to cyclosporine is tacrolimus. Hamel B, Wu M, Hamel EO, Bass DM, Park KT. Outcome of tacrolimus and vedolizumab after corticosteroid and anti-TNF failure in paediatric severe colitis. BMJ Open Gastroenterol. 2018;5(1):e000195 (“Positioning Biologic Therapies in the Management of Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease” & 14% of U.S. Infected with COVID-19)

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