Therapy of ulcerative colitis

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Abstract

Purpose of review

The past year has brought forth several controversies regarding the treatment of ulcerative colitis along with several potentially important clinical advances. The aim of this review is to provide the practicing gastroenterologist with a summation of these recent developments, with particular emphasis on advances that have already moved toward acceptance into clinical practice.

Recent findings

Controversies remain regarding the optimal formulations and doses of aminosalicylates. At the same time, the potential for chemoprotective effects in patients using maintenance therapy with mesalamine derivatives has been expanded. In addition, advances in biologic therapy for Crohn disease are beginning to be formally evaluated in ulcerative colitis, although the benefits of anti–tumor necrosis factor therapy in this condition remain to be established. Biologic therapies are beginning to be explored as adjunctive therapy for steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis, where trials of calcineurin inhibitors are also advancing clinical practice for this poor prognostic subgroup of patients. Finally, after surgery for ulcerative colitis, the treatment and prevention of pouchitis has become the one established indication for probiotic therapy.

Summary

Despite some inroads into the medical therapy of ulcerative colitis, controversies remain regarding the optimal dosing and delivery systems of the most fundamental therapies, and how to optimize therapy for severe ulcerative colitis. Clinical research will continue to investigate new biologic agents that inhibit tumor necrosis factor and other pro-inflammatory cytokines, and ongoing trials with leukocyte apheresis are currently under way.

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