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Dig Dis. 2013;31(1):91-4. doi: 10.1159/000347194. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Ulcerative colitis: current and future treatment strategies.

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Medical Department (Gastroenterology/Rheumatology/Infectious Diseases), Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Since the incidence of inflammatory bowel diseases including ulcerative colitis is continuously increasing worldwide, there is a strong need for effective treatment strategies. However, there is no therapy allowing for healing ulcerative colitis; consequently, the available medications will have to be applied at their best. The preferred option for mild pan- or left-sided colitis is still mesalazine. One can only emphasize that the formulations allowing for once daily dosing are not only equally effective, but even facilitate the implication of long-term therapy in daily life. In case steroids are frequently required to control disease, further immunosuppressive therapy should be introduced in order to minimize steroid exposure. Thiopurines represent the first-choice immunosuppressive medication. In more severe cases, early escalation to combinatory therapies with anti-TNF antibodies should be considered with the possibility of therapy deescalation after induction of remission. Major difficulties arise with steroid-refractory acute flares. Here cyclosporine as well as anti-TNF strategies can be initiated. However, in case of severe disease, the high 1-year colectomy rate of about 50% should be considered. If short-term surgery is an option due to disease severity, cyclosporine might be advantageous since the half-life is short compared to infliximab or adalimumab. The central problem of all therapeutic approaches is that because we chase after the disease, solid markers that allow for prediction of the future disease course are desirable. In fact, the CD8+ transcriptome might fill this gap and will potentially lead to the classification of patients in low- and high-risk groups.

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