This study will examine the safety and effectiveness of extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP)
in controlling Crohn's disease symptoms as patients taper their corticosteroid dose.
Crohn's disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease. Patients commonly have chronic
diarrhea with abdominal pain, loss of appetite and weight loss. Acute disease flares are
treated with large doses of corticosteroids, but long-term use of these drugs can have
harmful side effects. ECP (described below), is approved to treat skin symptoms associated
with a type of cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma and has been used experimentally in
conditions involving abnormal inflammation.
Patients 18 years of age and older who have had Crohn's disease for at least 6 months, who
are corticosteroid-dependent, and whose symptoms are controlled well enough so that their
Crohn's Disease Activity Index (CDAI) is less than 220, may be eligible for this study.
Candidates will be screened with a medical history and review of medical records, physical
examination, electrocardiogram, blood tests, urine pregnancy test for women of childbearing
potential, and a questionnaire about how Crohn's disease affects their life and activities.
Patients with a CDAI score of less than 150 will begin ECP treatments as soon as possible.
Those with scores from 150 to 219 will have their corticosteroid dose increased enough to
bring their CDAI score to below 150 before beginning ECP. Patients who do not achieve a
CDAI of less than 150 after 4 to 6 weeks of increased corticosteroids will be excluded from
Participants will have ECP treatments for 2 consecutive days every 2 weeks for 24 weeks, for
a total of 26 treatments. For ECP, patients undergo leukapheresis, a method of collecting
large numbers of white blood cells, or leukocytes-cells that may be responsible for many of
the medical problems in Crohn's disease. Whole blood is collected through a needle in an
arm vein, similar to donating a unit of blood. The blood flows through a machine that
separates it into its components by spinning. The white cells are removed and collected in
a plastic bag, and the red blood cells and plasma are returned to the patient's bloodstream
through the same needle. The collected white cells are mixed with a drug called UVADEX®
(Registered Trademark), exposed to ultraviolet (UVA) light, and then returned to the
patients' bloodstream. (The UVADEX allows the blood cells to absorb more UVA.) The UVA
changes the cells in a way that, once they are back in the body, they cause changes in other
cells like them. Each ECP treatment takes 3 to 4 hours. On the first day of each 2-day
treatment, patients will undergo a review of symptoms, check of vital signs, and blood draw.
They will complete a CDAI diary for 7 days before the first of the two ECP treatments and a
questionnaire about their life and activities at 4-week intervals. During the ECP treatment
period, corticosteroids will be slowly reduced as long as disease symptoms do not worsen.
Patients whose disease remains under control with cessation of all steroids may begin
maintenance ECP, 2 days in a row every 4 weeks for an additional 20 weeks (another 10
treatments), with the same follow-up as described above, and a full physical examination 4
weeks after the final treatment. Patients who were able to reduce, but not stop, steroid
treatment may be considered for maintenance therapy if it is thought that continuing
treatment may enable further reduction of steroids. Patients whose disease symptoms worsen
with ECP or who have not been able to decrease their steroid dose will not be eligible for
maintenance therapy and their participation in the study will end.
This protocol aims to measure the safety and effectiveness of extracorporeal photopheresis
(ECP) therapy for maintaining remission of symptoms during withdrawal of corticosteroids
from patients with steroid-dependent Crohn's disease. Potential subjects will be
asymptomatic or have a low level of symptoms that respond to an increase in their steroid
dose; furthermore potential subjects will be dependent on steroids to control their symptoms
and have a history of failing other immunosuppressive drugs to control their symptoms.
This is an unblinded, single-arm study of ECP in Crohn's disease. This trial will use ECP
twice a week every two weeks over 24 weeks during which time the dose of corticosteroids
will be tapered. If the corticosteroids are able to be withdrawn without an increase in
symptoms, then subjects may be eligible for further ECP (twice a week every four weeks over
24 weeks) as a maintenance regimen.
Outcome parameters include the rates of complete and partial steroid tapering while
maintaining remission, the rates of adverse events, and secondary clinical outcomes such as
duration of response, rate of and time to relapse, and changes in symptom index scores. In
addition, the NIH will perform a substudy that includes serial colonoscopy to measure
cytokine and cell population changes in mononuclear cells extracted from biopsies.
The long-term goals of this study are to test the safety and efficacy of ECP as a
steroid-sparing and remittive therapy in Crohn's disease, to determine the immune response
it effects in the gut mucosa, and identify factors associated with responders versus
non-responders to ECP.
Patients must meet each of the following criteria to be eligible for enrollment in this
1. Patients with Crohn's disease of at least 6 months duration (with colitis, ileitis,
or ileocolitis) confirmed by radiography or endoscopy.
2. Patient must have a CDAI score less than 220.
3. Patients with corticosteroid-dependent Crohn's disease who have failed at least one
attempt at corticosteroid tapering within the previous 6 months.
Corticosteroid-dependent patients are defined as those patients who have relapse of
Crohn's disease within 60 days following completion of corticosteroid treatment; OR
during corticosteroid tapering at doses greater than or equal to 10 mg/day
(prednisone equivalent); OR within 3 months following corticosteroid tapering, while
receiving a corticosteroid dose greater than or equal to 10 mg/day.
4. Patients with a CDAI score of less than 150 MUST:
- be on oral corticosteroids (other than oral budesonide) greater than or equal to
10 mg/day to be on oral corticosteroids (prednisone equivalent) for Crohn's
- be on a stable dose of oral corticosteroids (other than oral budesonide) for at
least 2 weeks prior to screening;
- have had clinically inactive Crohn's disease for at least 2 weeks prior to
Patients with a CDAI score of greater than or equal to 150 to less than 220 MUST:
- be on oral corticosteroids (othern than oral budesonide) greater than or equal
to 10 mg/day to less than or equal to 40 mg/day (prednisone equivalent) for
- have had no worse than mild disease for at least 2 weeks prior to screening.
5. Patients on aminosalicylates must have been on a stable dose for at least 4 weeks
prior to screening; and patients on the immunosuppressants, azathioprine,
6-mercaptopurine, or methotrexate must have been on a stable dose for at least 8
weeks prior to screening.
6. Patients not using aminosalicylates must have discontinued treatment at least 4 weeks
prior to screening. Patients not using immunosuppressants such as azathioprine,
6-mercaptopurine, or methotrexate must have discontinued treatment at least 4 weeks
prior to screening. Patients who had been receiving infliximab must have stopped
therapy at least 8 weeks prior to screening. Patients who had been receiving
adalimumab, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, or mycophenolate mofetil must have stopped
therapy for at least 4 weeks prior to screening.
7. Patients who have incidental (e.g. perianal) fistulae are permitted, provided:
- patients have predominantly luminal Crohn's disease, and
- fistulae are not associated with retention.
8. Patient's platelet count must be greater than or equal to 20,000/cmm.
9. Female patients must be one of the following: postmenopausal, surgically incapable
of bearing children, practicing an acceptable method of birth control (acceptable
methods may include hormonal contraceptives, intrauterine device, and spermicide and
barrier). Abstinence or partner/spouse sterility may also qualify at the
Investigator's discretion. If a female patient is of childbearing potential she must
have a negative urine pregnancy test at screening.
10. Patients must be able and willing to comply with all study procedures.
11. Signed informed consent must be obtained prior to conducting any study procedures.
12. Patients must be men and women greater than or equal to 18 years of age.
13. Patients must have a body weight greater than or equal to 40 kg (88 lb).
The presence of any of the following criteria will exclude the patient from from
participating in the study:
1. Patients with symptomatic intestinal strictures.
2. Patients with local manifestations of Crohn's disease such as abscesses, or disease
manifestations for which surgery might be indicated, or which might preclude
utilization of a CDAI to assess response to therapy (such as "short gut" syndrome).
3. Patients with stomas.
4. Patients with rectovaginal fistulae.
5. Patients who require antibiotics for the treatment of Crohn's disease.
6. Patients using oral budesonide.
7. Patients with diarrhea, due to conditions other than inflammatory Crohn's disease
(e.g. bacterial or parasitic gastroenteritis, bile salt diarrhea, or bacterial
8. Patients who are concomitantly using an anti-TNF agent, antibiotics, nonsteroidal
anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), cyclosporine, tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil, or
9. Patients unable to tolerate the extracorporeal volume shifts associated with ECP
treatment due to the presence of any of the following conditions: uncompensated
congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema, severe chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease, severe asthma, renal failure, or hepatic failure.
10. Patients with a poor tolerability of venipuncture or a lack of adequate venous access
for required blood sampling.
11. Patients receiving total parenteral nutrition (TPN), as the sole source of nutrition,
within 3 weeks of screening.
12. Patients with hypersensitivity or allergy to psoralen (methoxsalen).
13. Patients with hypersensitivity or allergy to both heparin and citrate products.
14. Patients with active bleeding.
15. Females who are pregnant and/or lactating.
16. Patients must not have been enrolled in any investigational study for 30 days prior