, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 287-293
Date: 01 Nov 2012

Infliximab versus cyclosporine as rescue therapy in acute severe steroid-refractory ulcerative colitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Acute severe colitis affects 25 % of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). Up to 30–40 % of these patients are resistant to intensive steroid therapy and therefore require rescue therapy to prevent emergent colectomy. Data comparing rescue therapy using infliximab and cyclosporine are limited and equivocal. This study evaluates the outcomes of UC patients receiving infliximab or cyclosporine as rescue therapy in acute severe steroid-refractory exacerbations.


Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane database) were searched for studies directly comparing infliximab and cyclosporine in UC, and references of included studies were screened. Two independent reviewers identified relevant studies and extracted data. Meta-analyses were performed using the random effect model. Outcome measures included 3- and 12-month colectomy rates, adverse drug reactions, and postoperative complications.


Six retrospective cohort studies describing 321 patients met the inclusion criteria. The meta-analysis did not show significant differences between infliximab and cyclosporine in the 3-month colectomy rate (odds ratio (OR) = 0.86, 95 % confidence interval (CI) = 0.31–2.41, p = 0.775), in the 12-month colectomy rate (OR = 0.60, 95 % CI = 0.19–1.89, p = 0.381), in adverse drug reactions (OR = 0.76, 95 % CI = 0.34–1.70, p = 0.508), and in postoperative complications (OR = 1.66, 95 % CI = 0.26–10.50, p = 0.591). Funnel plot revealed no publication bias.


Infliximab and cyclosporine are comparable when used as rescue therapy in acute severe steroid-refractory UC. Randomized trials are required to further evaluate these agents.