Tacrolimus vs. anti-tumour necrosis factor agents for moderately to severely active ulcerative colitis: a retrospective observational study

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There have been no comparative studies of tacrolimus vs. anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents to determine which treatment is safer or more effective in refractory ulcerative colitis (UC).


To compare short-term safety and efficacy of tacrolimus vs. anti-TNF agents for active UC.


One hundred patients with moderate-to-severe active UC were studied. Fifty patients were treated with oral tacrolimus (TAC group). The other 50 patients were treated with anti-TNF agents (anti-TNF group): 40 with infliximab and 10 with adalimumab. Primary endpoints were clinical response and remission rates, colectomy rate, and the incidence of adverse events during 12 weeks.


The incidence of adverse events was 12% in the TAC vs. 18% in the anti-TNF groups (P = 0.58). At week 12, clinical remission rate was 40% in the TAC vs. 28% in the anti-TNF groups (P = 0.29). Clinical response (including remission) rate was 62% in the TAC vs. 64% in the anti-TNF groups (P > 0.99). Five patients (10%) in the TAC and 8 (16%) in the anti-TNF groups required colectomy (P = 0.55). In a subgroup analysis restricted to severely active UC, the response rate was 50% in the TAC vs. 25% in the anti-TNF groups (P = 0.24). In severely active UC, the response rate tended to be higher in patients treated with tacrolimus, albeit not statistically significant.


Both tacrolimus and anti-TNF agents appeared to be safe and effective in the management of moderate-to-severe active UC. However, randomised controlled trials are warranted to confirm the results obtained in this study.

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