Thirty five adult patients with precirrhotic primary sclerosing cholangitis were randomly allocated to treatment for at least one year with low dose (4.1 mg/kg/day) cyclosporin or placebo in a double blind trial. Thirty patients had coexisting ulcerative colitis, including three who had previously undergone colectomy and one who discontinued treatment after three months. Of the remaining 26 patients, 16 received cyclosporin and 10 received placebo. Endoscopy was performed at entry to confirm the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease. The ulcerative colitis disease activity was prospectively classified annually as remission/mild, moderate, or severe using the Truelove and Witt's criteria. Before treatment there were no differences between the cyclosporin and placebo groups in the number of patients with remission/mild colitis, 14/16 (88%) v 9/10 (90%), and moderate colitis, 2/16 (12%) v 1/10 (10%). During treatment, a remission/mild disease course was present in 15/16 (94%) v 6/10 (60%), p = 0.05 and a moderate disease course in 1/16 (6%) v 4/10 (40%), p = 0.05. It is concluded that patients treated with cyclosporin for primary sclerosing cholangitis who have coexisting ulcerative colitis have a more benign course of colitis resulting both from improvement of moderately active colitis and from fewer flares of remission/mildly active colitis. These findings suggest that cyclosporin may be of benefit to the colon in patients with ulcerative colitis who are being treated with cyclosporin for primary sclerosing cholangitis.
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