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World J Gastroenterol. Jan 21, 2008; 14(3): 354-377
Published online Jan 21, 2008. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.354
Treatment of inflammatory bowel disease: A review of medical therapy
Patricia L Kozuch, Stephen B Hanauer
Patricia L Kozuch, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, Philadelphia, PA, United States
Stephen B Hanauer, University of Chicago Hospitals, Department of Medicine, Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Chicago, IL 60637, United States
Correspondence to: Stephen B Hanauer, MD, Department of Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology, Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 5841 S. Maryland Ave., MC 4076 Chicago, IL 60637, United States.
Telephone: +1-773-7022182
Fax: +1-773-7022182
Received: May 16, 2007
Revised: July 4, 2007
Published online: January 21, 2008

Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. While a cure remains elusive, both can be treated with medications that induce and maintain remission. With the recent advent of therapies that inhibit tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha the overlap in medical therapies for UC and CD has become greater. Although 5-ASA agents have been a mainstay in the treatment of both CD and UC, the data for their efficacy in patients with CD, particularly as maintenance therapy, are equivocal. Antibiotics may have a limited role in the treatment of colonic CD. Steroids continue to be the first choice to treat active disease not responsive to other more conservative therapy; non-systemic steroids such as oral and rectal budesonide for ileal and right-sided CD and distal UC respectively are also effective in mild-moderate disease. 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and its prodrug azathioprine are steroid-sparing immunomodulators effective in the maintenance of remission of both CD and UC, while methotrexate may be used in both induction and maintenance of CD. Infliximab and adalimumab are anti-TNF agents approved in the US and Europe for the treatment of Crohn's disease, and infliximab is also approved for the treatment of UC.

Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, Medical therapy