Intraperitoneal Administration of Autologous Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells for Refractory Crohn’s Disease: A Phase I Study

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Background and Aims:

Ex vivo-generated autologous tolerogenic dendritic cells [tolDCs] can restore immune tolerance in experimental colitis. The aim of this study was to determine the safety and tolerability of administration of autologous tolDCs in refractory Crohn’s disease [CD] patients.


A phase-I, single-centre, sequential-cohorts, dose-range study was designed. Stable tolDCs were generated ex vivo from monocytes following a previously developed protocol, and administered by sonography-guided intraperitoneal injection. Six sequential refractory-CD cohorts were established: the first three cohorts received a single intraperitoneal injection of tolDCs at escalating doses [2 x 106/5 x 106/10 x 106]; and the last three cohorts received three biweekly intraperitoneal injections at same escalating doses. Safety was sequentially evaluated. Patients were assessed from week 0 to 12 and followed up for 1-year period for safety.


Nine patients were included. No adverse effects were detected during tolDC injection or follow-up. Three patients withdrew from the study due to CD worsening. Crohn’s Disease Activity Index [CDAI] decreased from 274 [60] {mean (standard deviation [SD])} to 222 [113] [p = 0.3]; one [11%] patient reached clinical remission [CDAI < 150] and two [22%] clinical response [CDAI decrease ≥ 100]. Crohn's Disease Endoscopic Index of Severity [CDEIS] decreased from 18 [5] to 13 [8] [p = 0.4]; lesions improved markedly in three patients [33%]. Quality of life (inflammatory bowel disease questionnaire [IBDQ]) changed from 125 [27] to 131 [38] [p = 0.7]; remission [IBDQ at Week 12 ≥ 170] was reached in one [11%] case and response [IBDQ score increase ≥ 16] in two [22%].


Intraperitoneal administration of autologous tolDCs appears safe and feasible in refractory CD patients. Further studies should be developed to test clinical benefit, determine the optimal administration route and dose, and monitor the immune responses; See [, EudraCT number 2007-003469-42; number PEI 08-049].

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