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Infliximab: the evidence for its place in therapy in ulcerative colitis

Authors Gert Van Assche, Séverine Vermeire, Paul Rutgeerts

Published 15 September 2007 Volume 2007:2(3)


Gert Van Assche, Séverine Vermeire, Paul Rutgeerts
Division of Gastroenterology, University of Leuven Hospitals, Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium
Introduction: Refractory ulcerative colitis has a high, unmet medical need for avoiding steroid dependency and avoiding colectomy. Controlled trials with biologic agents have recently been reported.
Aims: We aimed to review the current evidence supporting the use of the monoclonal antitumor necrosis factor antibody, infliximab, in active ulcerative colitis and determine its current place in therapy.
Evidence review: Although faced with initial conflicting data particularly in steroid-refractory patients, two large, placebo-controlled trials have shown that intravenous infliximab induces and maintains clinical improvement in a clinically significant proportion of patients when used with scheduled re-treatment. Infliximab also spares steroids and induces endoscopic remission in moderately ill patients. In fulminant colitis unresponsive to intravenous steroids, one placebo-controlled trial indicates that infliximab is able to prevent colectomy in this patient population. Evidence for cost effectiveness and avoidance of colectomy long term are still lacking.
Place in therapy: Infliximab 5 mg/kg induction at 0, 2, and 6 weeks, and every 8 weeks thereafter should be considered in patients with moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis failing medical therapy. Steroid-dependent and steroid-refractory patients also qualify for infliximab therapy.
Keywords: biologic agents, fulminant colitis, infliximab, mucosal healing, ulcerative colitis

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