Research Article

Further studies of sulphasalazine metabolism in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Br Med J 1977; 2 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.2.6094.1057 (Published 22 October 1977) Cite this as: Br Med J 1977;2:1057

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  1. G O Cowan,
  2. K M Das,
  3. M A Eastwood

    Abstract

    Sixty-four outpatients with ulcerative colitis receiving maintenance treatment with sulphasalazine were studied to relate disease activity to serum concentrations of sulphapyridine. Of 43 patients in remission, 32 had serum sulphapyridine levels over 20 microgram/ml. Ten of the 21 patients with active disease were for various reasons taking inadequate doses of sulphasalazine, as indicated by low serum sulphapyridine levels, and of the remaining 11 patients, who had serum levels over 20 microgram/ml, nine had faecal stasis proximal to active distal colitis and went into remission when treated with hydrophilic colloid or bran and an unchanged sulphasalazine dosage. This suggests that to be effective the metabolites of sulphasalazine must be delivered in the faeces to the lumen of the diseased distal segment of the colon. High serum concentrations of sulphapyridine produce side effects; therefore slow acetylators of sulphapyridine need lower doses of sulphasalazine. Estimations of serum sulphapyridine concentrations, as well as identifying the patient's acetylation phenotype, can also be useful in assessing his compliance with treatment.