Infliximab is more effective than cyclosporine as a rescue therapy for acute severe ulcerative colitis: a retrospective single-center study

Authors Marco Le Grazie, Siro Bagnoli, Gabriele Dragoni, Saverio Caini, Vito Annese, Tommaso Innocenti, Simona Deiana, Natalia Manetti, Stefano Milani, Andrea Galli, Monica Milla.


Background Acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC) is a potentially life-threatening disease, and the best option in cases of steroid-refractory disease is still debated. We compared the early- and long-term efficacy and safety of the 2 available “rescue therapies”, infliximab (IFX) and cyclosporine (CYS), in this setting.

Methods We retrospectively evaluated patients admitted for ASUC and treated with “rescue therapy”. The primary endpoint was early colectomy-free survival (30 days) and colectomy-free survival until the end of follow up. The secondary endpoints were predictors of colectomy and long-term maintenance of the treatment strategy over time.

Results Of 129 patients admitted, 68 received rescue therapy (47 with IFX), whereas 7 underwent early colectomy (10.3%). At 30 days, fewer patients treated with IFX showed a need for colectomy (8.5% vs. 14.3%) compared to those in the CYS group, though the difference was non-significant (odds ratio [OR] 0.69, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.10-4.69; P=0.47). No severe side effects due to IFX and CYS were observed. During a mean follow up of 40 months, 23 additional patients (37.7%) underwent colectomy, and the rate was significantly lower in the IFX group (25.6%) than in the CYS group (66.7%) (hazard ratio 0.25, 95%CI 0.10-0.61; P=0.003). Colectomy-free survival was significantly higher in the IFX group than in the CYS group (P=0.018) at 12 months.

Conclusions In our setting, the early outcomes of IFX and CYS for ASUC were comparable. IFX was associated with significantly lower colectomy rates during the observation period and had a similar safety profile to CYS.

Keywords Ulcerative colitis, rescue therapy, anti-tumor necrosis factor, calcineurin inhibitors

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (3): 370-377

Original Articles