BACKGROUND: To date, there have been no studies focusing on the efficacy of thiopurine therapy in intestinal Behcet's disease (BD). We conducted this study to investigate clinical outcomes and predictors of clinical relapse in intestinal BD patients receiving thiopurine maintenance therapy.
METHODS: We reviewed the medical records of all patients with intestinal BD who received thiopurine therapy in a single tertiary academic medical center between March 1986 and October 2010. The cumulative probabilities of clinical relapse after remission were calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Predictors of clinical relapse were identified by univariate analysis using the log-rank test and by multivariate analysis using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
RESULTS: Of a total of 272 patients with intestinal BD, 67 (24.6%) received their first course of thiopurine therapy at our center. Thirty-nine (58.2%) of the 67 patients constantly received thiopurines for maintaining medically or surgically induced remission. The cumulative relapse rates at 1 year, 2 years, 3 years, and 5 years after remission were 5.8%, 28.7%, 43.7%, and 51.7%, respectively. On multivariate analysis, a younger age (<25 years) at diagnosis and a lower hemoglobin level (<11 g/dL) were independent predictive factors for relapse in intestinal BD patients receiving thiopurine maintenance therapy.
CONCLUSIONS: Thiopurine therapy showed a relatively good effect for maintenance of remission in intestinal BD patients. However, a younger age at diagnosis and a lower hemoglobin level were associated with a poor response to thiopurines, necessitating early adoption of effective alternative therapeutic options in these risk groups