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Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Nov;30(9):511-6.

[Optimization of immunomodulatory treatment with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine in inflammatory bowel disease].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicio de Medicina Digestiva. Hospital Universitario La Fe. Valencia. España.



There is limited information on the optimal use of thiopurinic immunomodulators in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and the dosage, efficacy and toxicity of these drugs has not been clearly established.


To evaluate clinical outcomes and the toxicity of thiopurinic immunomodulators in clinical practice (effectiveness), as well as possible associated variables.


Data were obtained from a database of patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease who started treatment with azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine with an identical predetermined schedule and follow-up. Remission, relapse and toxicity were defined and analyzed and their relationship with clinical, biologic and demographic variables was evaluated with multivariate analysis.


We evaluated 150 courses of treatment in 126 patients. Treatment was given to induce clinical remission in 118 courses and 62% of the patients reached this outcome, which was maintained for a mean of 52 months. The only variable associated with poor response was perianal disease. Adverse events were detected in 34% of the courses and were the main cause of treatment withdrawal. Factors significantly associated with withdrawal due to adverse events were starting with full doses of thiopurinic drugs (OR, 4.26; 95% CI, 1.12-16.32) and cotreatment with infliximab (OR, 5.6; 95% CI, 1.17-27.1).


Some clinical variables such as disease phenotype, the use of full doses of thiopurinic drugs from the start of treatment, and co-treatments can have a notable influence on adverse effects and thus on the effectiveness of this therapy in IBD.

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