The goals of treatment for ulcerative colitis (UC) are to induce and maintain corticosteroid-free remission, thereby reducing hospitalizations and surgeries and preventing longer-term disease complications including colorectal cancer. Despite an incomplete evidence base, thiopurine immunomodulators remain a principle therapeutic option for patients failing aminosalicylate monotherapy and requiring multiple courses of corticosteroids. In this review, we outline the current evidence supporting the role of thiopurines in achieving these treatment goals in UC, including discussions of the important safety issues regarding their use. We also explore some of the recent evidence emerging in regards to the risks of lymphoproliferative disease, dosage optimization strategies and the role of thiopurines in achieving mucosal healing in UC and ultimately changing natural history outcomes for our patients.
Keywords: Azathioporine, 6-mercaptopurine, thiopurines, immunomodulators, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, Colonoscopy, AZA, Nodular regenerative hyperplasia
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