AIM: To evaluate long-term prognosis following cyclosporine treatment by examining the rate of surgery avoidance among cyclosporine responders. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed clinical records for 29 patients diagnosed with severe steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis in our hospital from August 1997 to August 2008 and treated with cyclosporine by continuous intravenous infusion. All patients were treated with intravenous corticosteroids for more than 5 d prior to cyclosporine therapy. Administration was continued for up to 21 d under serum monitoring to maintain cyclosporine levels between 400 and 600 ng/mL. Clinical activity was assessed before and after cyclosporine therapy using the clinical activity index score, with a reduction of ≥ 5 considered to indicate a response. Among responders, we defined cases not requiring surgery for more than 5 years as exhibiting long-term efficacy of cyclosporine. Factors considered to be possibly predictive of long-term efficacy of cyclosporine were sex, age, disease duration, clinical activity index score, C-reactive protein level, hemoglobin level, disease extent, endoscopic findings, and clinical course. RESULTS: Cyclosporine was not discontinued due to side effects in any patient. Nineteen (65.5%) of 29 patients were considered responders. A statistically significant (P = 0.004) inverse association was observed between an endoscopic finding of "mucosal bleeding" and responsive cases. Fifteen (9 males, 6 females) of these 19 patients were followed for 5 years or more, of whom 9 (60%) exhibited long-term efficacy of cyclosporine. Of the 10 non-responders, 9 (90%) underwent surgery within 6 mo of cyclosporine therapy. None of the following factors had a significant impact on the long-term efficacy of cyclosporine: sex, age, duration of disease, clinical activity index score, C-reactive protein level, hemoglobin level, extent of disease, endoscopic findings, or clinical course. In contrast, a significant association was observed for maintenance therapy with azathioprine after cyclosporine therapy (P = 0.0014). CONCLUSION: Maintenance therapy with azathioprine might improve the long-term efficacy of continuously infused cyclosporine for severe steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis patients.
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