Fluticasone propionate, a topically active corticosteroid of low systemic bioavailability after oral administration, has been used in a pilot study for the treatment of mild and moderately active Crohn's disease. Twelve patients received oral fluticasone propionate for three weeks, and the effects were monitored using the Crohn's disease activity index and by 111In granulocyte scanning, assessing inflammation from scan appearances, four day faecal excretion of radioactivity, and whole body excretion of radioactivity. All patients completed the trial. No serious side effects were reported. There was a significant fall in Crohn's disease activity index values over the three week treatment period (193 (84) v 122 (51), p less than 0.01). 111In leucocyte scan images were improved (seven patients) or unchanged (five patients). There was a significant fall in excretion of injected radioactivity calculated from whole body data (28 (21)% v 14 (0.7)%, p less than 0.05). There were no changes in plasma cortisol values, either basal or synacthen stimulated. Fluticasone propionate is a promising therapeutic agent for Crohn's disease that offers the possibility of controlling inflammation without inducing systemic corticosteroid side effects and which merits evaluation in a double blind trial versus conventional corticosteroids.
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