OPEN Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association | 13 Nov 2012
M Camus, P Seksik, A Bourrier, I Nion-Larmurier, H Sokol, P Baumer, L Beaugerie and J Cosnes
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Little is known about the long-term outcomes of patients with Crohn’s disease (CD) who have a complete response to therapy with azathioprine. We assessed the long-term effects of azathioprine in responders. METHODS: We collected data from the MICISTA registry (a database from the Rothschild and Saint-Antoine Hospitals in Paris, France) on consecutive CD patients treated with azathioprine 1987-1999 who responded to therapy (steroid-free clinical remission at 1 year); they were followed until 2011 (n=220; 86 male; median age 32 years; median follow-up period, 12.6 years). Data were compared with those from 440 matched patients with CD who did not receive immunosuppressants during the same period of inclusion (controls). RESULTS: The cumulative rate of sustained remission 10 years after treatment with azathioprine was 3%. Among patients exposed to azathioprine during a prospective follow-up period (1995-2011, 1936 patient-years), the percent of patient-years with active disease (flare or complication during the calendar year) was 17.6%. Compared to the control group, at baseline, responders were more often active smokers with significantly more extensive disease, perianal lesions, and extra-digestive manifestations. During follow-up, responders had a significantly reduced risk of intestinal surgery (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.69; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.52-0.91) and of perianal surgery (AOR, 0.36; 95% CI, 0.27-0.46). A significantly higher percentage of responders developed cancers, including non-melanoma skin cancers, compared with controls (9.5% vs 4.1%;P <.01). Survival rates after 20 years were 92.8%±2.3% of responders vs 97.9%±0.8% of controls ( P =.01). CONCLUSION: Based on a study at a single center, patients with CD that responds to azathioprine have a smaller proportion of patient-years with active disease, and are less likely to be hospitalized or undergo intestinal surgery, than patients with CD who did not receive immunosuppressants. These benefits, however, could be offset by increased risk of malignancies.
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