Use of the immunomodulators thiopurines and methotrexate (MTX) in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), i.e., Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis (UC), is considered to be good clinical practice. However, despite being administered to a considerable number of IBD patients over the years, questions remain about the most rational treatment regimens of azathioprine (AZA), 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP), and MTX, and results from a range of recent studies necessitate increased attention to how to optimize the use of these immunomodulators. First and foremost, it is of utmost importance to define the subgroup of IBD patients in need of immunomodulators, including those in need of combination therapy with biologic agents, especially because some side effects may be rather severe. Second, colorectal cancer is observed more often in IBD patients than in the background population. However, a recent nationwide Dutch study pointed to a preventive effect of thiopurines. Finally, the need for an appropriate approach to the discontinuation of immunomodulators is emphasized. Since controversy continues regarding the most appropriate use of immunomodulators, this paper is focusing on pharmacokinetics, pharmacogenetics, and therapeutic blood testing, as well as the occurrence of adverse events, when using AZA, 6-MP, and MTX in an attempt to determine a more up-to-date and rational treatment regimen in IBD.
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Supplement, 2013, Vol 53, Issue 6, p. 575-588
Journal Article; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't; Review