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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 Jan;39(2):163-75. doi: 10.1111/apt.12555. Epub 2013 Nov 17.

Randomised clinical trial: individualised vs. weight-based dosing of azathioprine in Crohn's disease.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.



Azathioprine (AZA), a pro-drug metabolised to the active metabolites 6-tioguanine nucleotides (6TGN), is a steroid-sparing therapy for Crohn's disease (CD).


To investigate whether AZA therapy is optimised by individualised dosing based on thiopurine methyltransferase (TPMT) activity and 6TGN concentrations.


This multicentre, double-blind, randomised controlled trial compared the efficacy and safety of weight-based vs. individualised AZA dosing in inducing and maintaining remission in adults and children with steroid-treated CD. The primary outcome was clinical remission (CR) at 16 weeks. In the weight-based arm, subjects received 2.5 mg/kg/day. In the individualised dosing arm, the initial AZA dose was 1.0 mg/kg/day (if intermediate TPMT) or 2.5 mg/kg/day (if normal TPMT). Starting at week 5, the dose was adjusted to target 6TGN concentrations of 250-400 pmol/8 × 10(8) red blood cells (RBC), or to a maximal dose of 4 mg/kg/day.


After randomising 50 subjects, the trial was stopped prematurely due to insufficient enrolment. In intention-to-treat analysis, CR rates at week 16 were 40% in the individualised arm vs. 16% in the weight-based arm (P = 0.11). In per-protocol (PP) analysis, week 16 CR rates were 60% in the individualised arm and 25% in the weight-based arm (P = 0.12). At week 16, median 6TGN concentrations in PP remitters and nonremitters were 216 and 149 pmol/8 × 10(8) RBC respectively (P = 0.07).


Despite trends favouring individualised over weight-based AZA dosing, there were no statistically significant differences in efficacy, likely due to low statistical power and inability to achieve the target 6TGN concentrations in the individualised arm. [Clinicaltrials.Gov Identifier Nct00113503].


© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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