Anti-TNFα Treatment in Children and Adolescents With Combined Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Autoimmune Liver Disease

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Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and autoimmune liver disease (AILD) are closely associated, the former often dictating progression of the latter. Antibodies to tumor necrosis factor alpha (anti-TNFα) are effective in the management of IBD, but may cause liver injury.


Retrospective review of medical records of patients with juvenile AILD who received anti-TNFα for IBD to evaluate the safety and efficacy of anti-TNFα.


Eleven patients (6 boys), ages 9 to 15 years (median 13 years) were identified. Ten had ulcerative colitis and 1 Crohn disease; 2 had autoimmune hepatitis type 1 and 9 autoimmune hepatitis-sclerosing cholangitis variant. All patients were started on infliximab (IFX, 5 mg/kg) and 2 required dose increase (10 mg/kg); 3 of 11 switched to adalimumab due to allergic reaction or nonresponse. Three received adalimumab after losing response or developing antibodies to IFX. Liver function tests (LFTs) improved in 5, 1 continued to have stably abnormal LFTs and 2 maintained normal LFTs. Patients on adalimumab showed stable or improved liver function compared to pretreatment status. Six of 8 treated with a full course of IFX maintained clinical remission of IBD for 6 months to 2.5 years; of the 6 patients treated with adalimumab, 1 sustained IBD clinical remission for 24 months, 2 achieved remission only after tacrolimus addition and 3 did not respond.


IBD in patients with AILD can be aggressive, requiring escalation to anti-TNFα or switching to other biologics. In this series, anti-TNFα did not impair liver function and improved gut disease in most of the patients, indicating that it can be beneficial and safe.

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