How High Can You Go with Adalimumab?

A recent study (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 1047-53) explored the “Efficacy and Safety of Adalimumab 80 mg Weekly in Luminal Crohn’s Disease.”

Methods: Between 2011-2012, 42 adults with active Crohn’s disease, defined by CDAI > 150 and an objective marker of inflammation, had a dose escalation of adalimumab to 80 mg weekly in prospective multi center study.

  • Objective markers could include CRP >0.5 mg/dL, fecal calprotectin >300 mcg/g, radiologic evidence or endoscopic evidence
  • Only 4 patients were receiving concomitant immunomodulators (& none were started)
  • There were no reports of adalimumab drug levels

Findings: At 14 weeks, 33.3% achieved a clinical remission (CDAI <150) and 23 (54.8%) had a clinical response.  These patients had associated improvements in CRP.  The authors do not report on serious adverse events; all AEs “were consistent with previous experience with this drug.”

Take-home point: The authors do not recommend this approach in routine clinical practice at this time.  However, it would seem that some patients with low adalimumab trough levels (and no anti-drug antibodies) may benefit from high doses of adalimumab

Briefly noted:

Fumery M, et al. JPGN 2015; 60: 744-48.  This retrospective study identified 27 children who received adalimumab (ADA) after infliximab failure.  Though ADA was well-tolerated, 8 (30%) had primary nonresponse to ADA and an additional 5 (26%) had ADA failure by 1 year.

Huang EY, et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 963-72.  “Exposure to dexamethasone in mice led to substantial shifts in gut microbiota over a 4-week period.” Take-home point: Corticosteroids may have both direct and indirect impacts on the microbiome as one mechanism of influencing disease response

Related blog posts:

Zoo Atlanta

Zoo Atlanta

NASPGHAN Postgraduate Course 2014 -Liver Module

This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized the presentations. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.  I’ve attached the course syllabus as well:

PG Course Syllabus – FINAL

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis –Dennis Black (Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital)

  • Up-to-date review provided
  • GWAS (genome-wide association study) identified 16 significant risk loci which account for only 7.3% of overall risk; environmental influences need to be worked out
  • Pediatric studies –total of 328 patients reported to date

Is pediatric disease the same disease as in adults?

  • Incidence in pediatrics: 0.23/100,000 incidence vs 1.1/100,000 in adults
  • Mean age at diagnosis 13 years in pediatrics.
  • 30% of pediatric patients have overlap with autoimmune hepatitis which is higher than in adult patients.

Other pointers:

  •  Discussed “Autoimmune cholangitis.” Imaging needed in autoimmune hepatitis to look for primary sclerosing cholangitis.
  • IBD Association with PSC: IBD occurs in about 55% of PSC patients. If PSC diagnosed first, usually with right-sided colitis.  If IBD diagnosed first, than pancolitis is more commonly noted.
  • Add IgG4 as part of workup to rule out IgG4 cholangiopathy (sensitive to immunosuppression).


  • Supportive care for cholestasis (vitamins, pruritus management, etc
  • Monitoring for complications (rare cases of cholangiocarcinoma in pediatric population).  14 drugs tested to date –mainly in adults.  “All without proven positive impact on long-term outcome.”
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid –widely used but controversial because higher doses associated with worsened outcomes in adult study (Lindor et al).  Ongoing study in pediatric population with ursodeoxycholic acid.
  • Vancomycin (Aliment Pharm 37: 2013; 604.  Adults n=35). Both Flagyl and Vanc seemed to be helpful. Uncontrolled pediatric studies with vancomycin reviewed. Vancomycin study in the works for pediatric/adults.
  • No prospective randomized controlled trials in children and very little data in adults. Hard endpoints –very difficult in children/not practical in children (eg. portal hypertension, transplant, death).

PSC and Transplantation: PSC 2.6% of total transplants –long-term outcome is similar.

Related Blog Posts:

The Jaundiced Infant –Saul Karpen (Emory)

  •  “We don’t estimate jaundice very well… Our eyes do an awful job.”
  • Breastmilk Jaundice: Archives of Disease in Childhood 1978; 53: 506-16.  Only 12 of 853 had jaundice beyond 3 weeks of life.
  • Cholestasis. One of the best studies looking at etiology was recently published:  Hoerning A, et al Front Pediatr. 2014; 2: 65. N=82.  Only 1 patient had CMV.  41% had biliary atresia.

Biliary atresia (BA):

  • Reviewed study indicating that liver biopsy was most accurate means of making diagnosis of biliary atresia (blog comment: this study result may not be accurate in all settings as the interpretation relies on the ability/reliability of pathologist).  High utility of stool pigment & ultrasound (including flow).
  • In retrospective study (Pediatrics 2011; 128 e1428-33), all the BA patients had elevated direct bilirubin by 24-48 hrs of life.
  • Genetic panels and whole exome sequencing (~$4-7K) are happening now. Cost-effective.

Take-home message: Molecular understanding possible for conjugated/unconjugated hyperbilirubinemias. Direct bilirubin >1 is abnormal

Related blog posts:

Acute Liver Failure –Estella Alonso (Children’s Hospital of Chicago) (pg 43)


  • Few patients receive a full diagnostic workup (J Pediatr 2009;155:801‐6)–especially with regard to metabolic and autoimmune disorders.
  • Reviewed etiologies –most frequently “indeterminant” especially in younger patients.  Acetaminophen is most frequent etiology in teenagers and adults.
  • Systemic inflammation is common in acute liver failure (Bucuvalas, J JPGN 2013;56: 311–315). Soluble IL2 receptor alpha –significantly higher in patients that died.  Immune regulation important aspect regarding survival. Should steroids be used in cases with high inflammation?

Prognosis: Squires et al. J Pediatr 2006;148:652-8, Lee et al. JPGN 2005;40:575-81, Baliga et al. Liver Transpl 2004;10:1364-71

  • 33% ‐53% survival with native liver
  • 61% survival including LT
  • 70%‐80% after LT
  • Multiorgan failure is most common etiology of death. Bleeding is “a rare cause of mortality.”


  • Reviewed including coagulopathy/bleeding, cardiovascular collapse, hepatic encephalopathy/cerebral edema
  • Pediatric N-acetylcysteine Trial Squires, et al Hepatology 2013;57:1542‐9 N=182.  Patients with NAC seemed to do worse, but not statistically proven.  This study has stopped the widespread use of NAC in acute liver failure.
  • Discussed approach to neurological complications in ALF. Hussain et al, JPGN 2014;58:449‐56. Retrospective study (n=18). Early EEGs obtained. Hypertonic saline may be more effective than mannitol.  Hypothermia may be helpful adjunct.
  • Timing of Transplantation discussed (pg 54 in syllabus). Difficult to predict spontaneous survival.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

This Year's Pumpkin

This Year’s Pumpkin

Budesonide for Ulcerative Colitis

Budesonide (Uceris) has been formulated with the MMX delivery technology and now has been FDA approved for mild to moderate ulcerative colitis in adults.  The potential advantage of budesonide compared with conventional corticosteroids is for targeting anti-inflammatory activity to the colon with less systemic side effects.  The potential downside includes the high cost.  According to one website (see below), the average wholesale cost is just below $1500 per month.  In addition, only a minority of individuals responded to budesonide in published studies:

Induction of Remission in Studies 1 and 2 (reference below)

Treatment Group

Study 1 n/N (%)

Study 2 n/N (%)


22/123 (17.9)

19/109 (17.4)


16/121 (13.2)

9/109 (8.3)

Reference Arm*

15/124 (12.1)

13/103 (12.6)


9/121 (7.4)

4/89 (4.5)

Treatment Difference between UCERIS 9 mg and Placebo (95% CI)†

10.4% (2.2%, 18.7%)

12.9% (4.6%, 21.3%)

Data for budesonide for pediatric patients with ulcerative colitis is not available.

Lessons on Stature from Asthma Treated with Steroids

A study of the effects of budesonide for the treatment of asthma should be carefully considered by those of us who treat eosinophilic esophagitis with “topical” steroids; also, this study has applicability to Crohn’s disease patients receiving chronic glucocorticoids.  Mean adult height was 1.2 cm lower in the budesonide-treated asthmatics than in the placebo group (NEJM 2012; 367: 904-12).

This was the main finding at the end of the Childhood Asthma Management Program (CAMP) clinical trial.  This report examined 943 of 1041 (90.6%) participants  who had received either 0.4 mg of budesonide, 16 mg of nedocromil or placebo daily for 4 to 6 years.  Treatment with these agents began between ages 5 to 13.

The reduction in adult height was to similar in adulthood as it was after 2 years of treatment; there was not catch up growth.  With regard to the adult measurements, 96.8% of the adult women were at least 18 years and the adult men were at least 20 years of age.

Other findings:

  • Larger daily dose: each microgram per kilogram was associated with -0.1 cm drop
  • Other risk groups: Hispanic ethnic group, female sex, greater body mass index, longer duration of asthma, and higher Tanner stage at initiation

The authors note that 0.2 mg dosage of budesonide has been shown to be effective to control asthma symptoms in children 5-11 years.  The “lowest effective dose” should be used; “the effect on adult height must be balance against the large and well-established benefit of these drugs in controlling persistent asthma.”

Related links:

Looking better or feeling better in EoE?

Guidelines for Eosinophilic Esophagitis

Choosing topical therapy for EoE

The undiscovered country

Outcomes of Biliary Atresia

A retrospective study from the Netherlands showed that timely surgery and postoperative antibiotics were associated with better outcomes in Biliary Atresia (BA) (J Pediatr 2012; 160: 638-44).  While these results are not surprising, due to the length of the study period (1987-2008) and the number of patients (n=214), the study offers insight into a number of unresolved issues with regard to BA.

The type of BA in this series:

  • type I      14  (6.5%)
  • type II      27 (12.6%)
  • type III   172 (80.4%)
  • undetermined  1 (0.9%)

Other notable findings:

  • 10% of their patients had splenic malformations; no significant change in outcome was noted in this subgroup.
  • 18% received high-dose corticosteroids –no benefit was identified in this subgroup.  The authors state that previous studies are inconclusive; a large US trial of prednisolone (4 mg/kg/day initially) is pending.
  • 31% received ursodeoxycholic acid –no benefit was identified in this subgroup.
  • Overall survival improved a little during the study period, mostly due to increased availability of liver transplantation. 4-year transplant-free survival was 46% and 4-year overall survival was 73%.   Table II (pg 641) in their study lists six other international studies.  Recent studies in some countries have reported 4-year survivals of 82-91%.
  • Antibiotic usage (most commonly co-trimoxazole) was associated with improved outcomes, presumably due to less frequent bouts of cholangitis.  Yet, in this study the reported incidence of cholangitis was not lower.  The authors do not have an explanation for this finding.

Age at time of Kasai:

  • ≤45 days 19%
  • 46-60 days 37%
  • 61-89 days 36%
  • ≥90 days 8%
  • Median was 59 days.  Authors note that Netherland guidelines call for all infants with jaundice at 3 weeks to have a fractionated bilirubin.

Related blog entries:

Minimizing malnutrition in Biliary Atresia

The heart connection

MicroRNAs and biliary atresia

Additional references:

  • -JPGN 2010; 51: 631.  n=91.  Operation w/in 100 days.  Data suggesting that 60 day cutoff is not valid. (Hong Kong)
  • -J Pediatr Surg 2003; 38: 997-1000. n=735.  90 day cutoff was key with 5-yr & 10-yr survival. (Japan)
  • -JPGN 2010; 51:61.  Canadian experience. n=230.  Center size did not affect outcome.  Overall 39% at 4yrs had survival with native liver.
  • -Liver transplantation 2009; 15: 829, 876.  With combo of Kasai & Tx, >95% exteneded survival (previously 100% fatal).  >80% will need a liver Tx at some point –~50% before age 2.  Increased fibrosis & genes for fibrosis may increase risk for poor outcome.
  • -JPGN 2009; 48: 72.  Review of 13 year experience. n=91.
  • -Pediatrics 2008; 121: e1438.  Single center (Australia?) noted longer delay in dx of BA over 15-year period from 48.5 days (1990-94) to 59.5 (95-99) to 69 days (2000-2004).
  • -JPGN 2008; 46: 238, 299.  More data on age of dx of BA and outcomes from Sweden.
  • -J Pediatr 2006; 149: 393.  Long term outcome of BA -28yrs in England.  7/56 survived long term with native liver; 5-yr native liver survival was 46%, 10-yr was 32%.
  • -J Pediatr 2006; 148: 467, 432..  Outcome of BA in US.  Avg age of referral was 53 days and HPE avg at 61 days.  one-third will survive to age 10 with native liver; overall 90% survival with kasai/hpe & Tx; 50-60% clear jaundice p Kasai.  yellow alert campaign:
  • -Clin Gastro & Hep 2006; 1411.  BA with choledochal cyst. Nice pics of types of BA. Japanese pathologic classification:  Type 1 with atresia after gallbladder (CBD), type II atresia of common hepatic duct/CBD/GB  c normal intrahepatic ducts, Type III atresia of entire ductal system.
  • -Pediartics 2006; 117: 1147.  Usefulness of stool color cards for screening program.
  • -J Pediatr 2005; 147: 142 & 180-5.  23% c BA survive c native liver for more than 20 yrs; 88% survival for 3 yrs p-OLT; risk factors for poor outcome discussed including poor nutrition & age <5 months.
  • -J Pediatr 2004; 144: 123-5.  severity of fibrosis at time of Kasai inversely correlated with survival
  • -JPGN 2003; 37: 430-33.  Residual fibrosis/cirrhosis noted in 54%/40% respectively of pts with normal labs, median age 13 yrs.
  • -JPGN 2003; 37: 4-21. Review of BA