Share this article on:

Do Children With IBD Really Respond Better Than Adults to Thiopurines?

Goodhand, JR*; Tshuma, N*; Rao, A; Kotta, S; Wahed, M; Croft, NM; Sanderson, IR; Epstein, J; Rampton, DS

Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: June 2011 - Volume 52 - Issue 6 - p 702–707
doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e31820ba46c
Original Articles: Gastroenterology

Background and Objectives: Children and adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) have more extensive and severe disease than adults. Despite a lack of comparative studies, thiopurines are frequently cited as being more efficacious in children. To test this assertion, we compared the efficacy of thiopurines in children with IBD with that in adults matched for disease phenotype.

Patients and Methods: Fifty paediatric and adult patients with IBD started on a thiopurine were matched for sex, disease type, and extent. Retrospective data were obtained by electronic case note review, and corticosteroid-free clinical remission and tolerance rates at 6 months as well as relapse rates during the subsequent year were recorded.

Results: Adverse effects caused discontinuation of thiopurines in 1 of 50 children and 16% (8/50) of adults (P < 0.05). At 6 months, steroid-free remission was achieved in 30% (15/50) of children and 38% (19/50) of adults (P = 0.53). No differences in remission rates were seen according to disease type. At the end of the following year, 73% (11/15) of children and 68% (13/19) of adults remained in remission (P = 1).

Conclusions: Thiopurines are tolerated better by children. When phenotype is matched, there is no difference in the therapeutic response to thiopurines between children and adults with IBD.

Digestive Diseases Clinical Academic Unit, Barts, and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary's University, London, UK.

*Drs Goodhand and Tshuma contributed equally to the study and should be considered co-first authors.

Received 14 October, 2010

Accepted 15 December, 2010

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof David Rampton, Endoscopy Unit, The Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, UK (e-mail:

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Copyright 2011 by ESPGHAN and NASPGHAN