Optimizing Thiopurine Therapy in Inflammatory Bowel Disease among 2 Real-life Intercept Cohorts: Effect of Allopurinol Comedication?

Berrie Meijer*, Margien L. Seinen, Remco Van Egmond, Gerd Bouma, Chris J.J. Mulder, Adriaan A. Van Bodegraven, Nanne K.H. De Boer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Thiopurines (azathioprine and mercaptopurine) are frequently used immunosuppressive drugs to maintain remission in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. Half of the conventional thiopurine-derivative users have to discontinue treatment within 5 years, mainly because of intolerable adverse events. Over recent years, different strategies to optimize thiopurine treatment were suggested, yet, studies describing the clinical effectiveness of these strategies remain scarce. The aims of this study were to compare tolerability and sustained clinical benefit of conventional thiopurine derivatives therapy among two 5-year real-life intercept cohorts and to assess the clinical value of specifically allopurinol cotherapy. Methods: In this retrospective single-center cohort study, we analyzed data from patients in whom weight-based thiopurine monotherapy was initiated between 2005 and 2009 (cohort 1) or between 2010 and 2014 (cohort 2). The initiation of the second cohort was synchronic to the start of allopurinol-based optimization in our center. Optimization strategies were extracted from patient charts. Results: In total, 105 patients were included (60 in cohort 1, and 45 in cohort 2). Metabolite measurement was performed in 37% versus 84% of the patients (P < 0.001). Subsequent optimization strategies were applied in 33% versus 58% of the patients because of inadequate metabolite concentrations, intolerance, or ineffectiveness (P = 0.01). Allopurinol was coadministered to therapy in 18 patients (40%) in the second cohort. Therapy was switched to thioguanine in 11 versus 6 patients (P > 0.05). Overall, total duration was longer in the second cohort (10.8 versus 34.1 months, P < 0.001). The number of ongoing thiopurine users (20% versus 49%) and sustained clinical benefit (13% versus 38%) were higher in the second cohort (both P < 0.05). This was mainly because of a decrease in hepatotoxicity after optimization (P < 0.01). Conclusions: Optimization of thiopurine therapy by the use of therapeutic drug monitoring with subsequent administration of allopurinol cotherapy successfully enhanced sustained clinical benefit and tolerability in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2011-2017
Number of pages7
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

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