Infliximab for Crohn’s Disease in Clinical Practice: the Experience of a Single Center in Romania

Liana Gheorghe, Cristian Gheorghe, Mihaela Badea, Roxana Vadan, Iuliana Pârvulescu, Cristina Toader, Letitia Tugui, Octavian Papuc, Radu Ionescu, Carmen Preda, Ion Calin, Mircea Diculescu

Center of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Fundeni Clinical Institute, Bucharest

Abstract

Aim. The aim of the study was to report the efficacy and tolerability of infliximab therapy in the first 24 patients with refractory and fistulizing Crohn’s disease (CD) treated at our center between August 2000-May 2002.

Patients and methods. The medical records of 24 patients (13 males, 11 females) treated with infliximab for refractory or fistulizing CD were reviewed. CD was diagnosed using conventional clinical, endoscopical and histological criteria. Infliximab was administered at a dose of 5 mg/kg body mass as a 2-hours i.v. infusion in a single infusion for inflammatory CD, and a triple infusion regimen for fistulizing CD (at 0, 2, and 6 weeks). Efficacy was analysed by means of 1) clinical outcome, 2) mucosal healing, 3) steroid tapering/sparing effect and 4) need for surgery.

Results. Sixteen patients were treated for inflammatory CD, 7 patients for fistulizing CD and 1 patient for both inflammatory and fistulizing CD. A total number of 49 infusions were administered during the study interval (median number 2); the median time of follow-up was 26 weeks (12-79 weeks). An overall positive clinical response was seen in 12/16 patients (75%) with inflammatory CD and 5/7 patients (71.4%) with fistulizing CD. The median time to clinical response was 5.6 days (range 1-11 days) and the median duration of clinical response was 6.53 mo. (4 weeks-21 months). Mucosal healing was noted in 10/17 (58%). Steroid tapering or cessation was succesfully attempted in 17 patients (80.9%), complete steroid withdrawal being possible in 15 patients (71.4%). Three non-responder patients required surgical therapy. Infusion-related adverse reactions were seen in 4 patients (16.6%). Two patients (8.3%) developed severe adverse events; one of them, a young female patient with intrapartum onset of a severe CD developed sepsis and deceased from intavascular disseminated coagulopathy. During the follow-up, none of our patients developed serious infections, tuberculosis or malignancy.

Conclusion. Our study provides additional evidence that infliximab is beneficial and safe in clinical practice for refractory and fistulizing CD patients. Additionally, our study proved the high mucosal healing rate and the steroid-sparing and surgery-saving properties of infliximab.

Key words

Crohn’s disease - infliximab - tumor necrosis factor