Efficacy and safety of tacrolimus in refractory ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease: A single-center experience

Aaron Benson, Terrence Barrett, Marshall Sparberg, Alan L. Buchman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background: The published experience regarding the use of tacrolimus in Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) refractory to more commonly used medical therapy has been fairly limited. Our objective was to describe our experience with its use in a cohort of patients which, to our knowledge, represents the largest North American cohort described to date. Methods: This was a retrospective, single-center chart analysis. Patients were identified by compiling all hospital discharges with principle diagnoses of ICD-9 codes for 555.0-555.9 (regional enteritis) and 556.0-556.9 (ulcerative colitis) from January 1, 2000, to October 31, 2005, and then cross-referencing the electronic charts for tacrolimus serum concentrations ordered during this time period. Additional patients were identified through verbal communication with participating clinicians. Information abstracted included proportion with clinical response and remission (using a modified disease activity index), ability to wean from steroids, need for surgery / time to surgery, and side-effect profile. Results: In all, 32 UC patients and 15 CD patients were identified. The mean disease duration was: UC 81 months (range, 1 month to 37 years), CD 100 months (range, 1 month to 35 years). The disease distribution for UC was: pancolitis 12 (37.5%), extensive colitis 6 (18.8%), left-sided 11 (34.4%), and proctitis 3(9.4%). For CD this was: TI 2 (13.3%), small bowel 2 (13.3%), colonic 3 (20.7%), ileocolonic 7(46.7%), and perianal 1 (6.7%). The duration of tacrolimus treatment for UC was mean, 29 weeks. For CD it was mean, 9.9 weeks. In all, 30/32 UC and 7/15 CD patients were on steroids; 4/30 UC and 0/7 CD patients were able to subsequently wean off steroids. In all, 12/32 UC patients proceeded to colectomy. Mean time to colectomy was 28 weeks and 6/15 CD patients proceeded to a resective surgery. The mean time to surgery was 22 weeks. In all, 22/32 UC patients achieved a clinical response; 3/32 achieved remission and 8/15 CD patients achieved a clinical response; 1/15 achieved remission. Adverse reactions were generally mild. In 6 patients the drug had to be discontinued because of an adverse reaction. There were no opportunistic infections identified, no cases of renal insufficiency related to drug administration, and no deaths while on the medicine. Conclusions: Our experience with tacrolimus in UC and CD indicates that it is safe and relatively well tolerated, although its clinical efficacy is quite variable. More prospective studies assessing its use are necessary.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-12
Number of pages6
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Chart analysis
  • Crohn's disease
  • Single center
  • Tacrolimus
  • Ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Gastroenterology


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