Combination of azathioprine and corticosteroids in the treatment of serpiginous choroiditis.

Can J Ophthalmol 2006 Apr;41(2):183-9

Uveitis and Ocular Immunology Unit, Department of Ophthalmology, Royal Victoria Hospital, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Background: Although therapy with immunosuppressive agents is currently accepted as the best option for treating active serpiginous choroiditis (SC), there is no consensus on the most effective immunosuppressive drug to use. In this paper, we describe the clinical course of patients with active SC treated with azathioprine (AZA) in combination with corticosteroids.

Methods: This retrospective study included 4 patients (5 eyes) with active, vision-threatening SC who received systemic immunosuppression with AZA at 1.5 to 2.0 mg/kg per day. In combination with oral AZA, patients also received 1 mg/kg oral prednisone per day. Information collected included Snellen visual acuity (VA), clinical disease activity, duration of follow-up, rate of inflammation recurrence, and side effects of AZA.

Results: Within 3 weeks of treatment, all patients experienced decreased ocular inflammation and improved VA. One patient, however, had a recurrence in both eyes while oral prednisone was being tapered. In this case, once the dosage of oral prednisone was increased and methotrexate was added to the therapeutic scheme, inflammation was controlled within 1 month. The other 3 patients presented no further visual loss while on AZA and were able to taper and then discontinue oral prednisone. Nevertheless, SC recurred in 1 of these patients 40 months after the initial treatment. AZA was reintroduced but the patient complained of gastrointestinal problems, and it was then successfully replaced by mycophenolate mofetil. None of the 4 patients presented serious systemic side effects secondary to AZA.

Interpretation: This study suggests that when AZA is used in combination with corticosteroids it is a safe and acceptable option for treating patients with active SC. Side effects and recurrences while on AZA therapy can occur, requiring either replacement of the drug or addition of another immunosuppressive agent.

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April 2006
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