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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2003 Jan;1(1):28-35.

Leukocyte adsorptive apheresis for the treatment of active ulcerative colitis: a prospective, uncontrolled, pilot study.

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  • 1Department of Endoscopic and Photodynamic Medicine, Hamamatsu University, Japan.



Active ulcerative colitis (UC) is characterized by infiltration of activated granulocytes and monocytes/macrophages (GM) within the large bowel mucosa. GM are major sources of inflammatory cytokines, and in UC they are elevated with increased survival time. We investigated the possibility that reducing the level of these cells might promote remission of active UC.


Thirty-one patients with active corticosteroid refractory (refractory) UC, mean age of 42 years, duration of UC 6 years, clinical activity index (CAI) of 15, disease activity index (DAI) of 10, and 8 corticosteroid naive patients (naive), mean age of 36 years, duration of UC 2 years, CAI of 11, DAI of 8 were recruited. Each patient was treated with up to 11 cycles of granulocyte and monocyte adsorptive apheresis over 11 weeks by using a 335-mL capacity column filled with cellulose acetate beads that adsorb GM.


At week 12, 81% of refractory (CAI, 3; P < 0.001 and DAI, 4; P < 0.001) and 88% of naive (CAI, 1; P = 0.012 and DAI, 3; P = 0.011) patients achieved remission. Early relapse was not a feature, and at 12 months, 26 of 33 patients had maintained their remission. The treatment was well tolerated, and no severe side effects were observed.


The outcome of this study suggests that reduction of circulating granulocytes and monocytes results in alleviation of inflammation and promotes clinical remission in patients with severe active UC that has not responded to intensive corticosteroid treatment. These data suggest that formal controlled studies are warranted.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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