A comparative analysis of tioguanine versus low-dose thiopurines combined with allopurinol in inflammatory bowel disease patients

V.B.C. Biemans, E. Savelkoul, R.Y. Gabriels, M. Simsek, G. Dijkstra, M.J. Pierik, R.L. West, N.K.H. de Boer, F. Hoentjen*, Dutch Initiative on Crohn and Colitis (ICC)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background Both tioguanine and low-dose thiopurines combined with allopurinol (LDTA) can be considered for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) when conventional thiopurines fail due to adverse events.Aim To compare the safety of tioguanine and LDTA in IBD patients.Methods Inflammatory bowel disease patients who failed conventional thiopurines due to adverse events and initiated LDTA in standard care were identified in the prospective ICC Registry. IBD patients who failed conventional thiopurines due to adverse events and initiated tioguanine were enrolled in three university hospitals. Patients on concomitant biologicals were excluded. The primary outcome was discontinuation of therapy due to adverse events. Secondary outcomes included: safety outcomes and surgery-, biological- and corticosteroid-free clinical remission (physician global assessment = 0) after 104 weeks. Both multiple logistic regression and propensity score matching were used to correct for confounders.Results In total, 182 IBD patients treated with tioguanine (n = 94) or LDTA (n = 88) were included with a median follow-up of 104 weeks (IQR 91-104). Of these, 19% (tioguanine: 20%, LDTA: 18%) of patients discontinued therapy due to adverse events. After adjusting for confounders, there were no differences in terms of discontinuation rate due to adverse events (OR 0.50, 95% CI 0.15-1.68, P = 0.26), adverse events (OR 0.89, 95% CI 0.44-1.81, P = 0.75), infections (OR 1.05, 95% CI 0.40-2.73, P = 0.93), hospitalisations (OR 2.00, 95% CI 0.64-6.23, P = 0.23) or clinical remission (OR 0.74, 95%CI 0.33-1.68, P = 0.48). All results are comparable with the propensity score matched cohort.Conclusion Nineteen percent of IBD patients with prior failure to conventional thiopurines due to adverse events discontinued therapy with tioguanine or LDTA due to adverse events. Either therapy may be considered before escalating to biological therapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1076-1086
Number of pages11
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • adverse events
  • azathioprine
  • combination therapy
  • crohns-disease
  • efficacy
  • infliximab
  • intensification
  • prevalence
  • safety
  • thioguanine

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