Childhood Crohn's disease may cause significant morbidity. T cell activation is considered to be central to Crohn's disease pathology, and as cyclosporin is a powerful inhibitor of T cell activation, and has been used in adult Crohn's disease with encouraging results, it may offer the prospect of remission if given early in the course of disease. Children with newly diagnosed Crohn's disease or those relapsing off treatment were therefore given cyclosporin or conventional treatment (enteral nutrition or corticosteroids) by random allocation. Evaluation was performed initially and at two months. Twenty four children were studied (10 on cyclosporin and 14 on conventional treatment; one child on cyclosporin withdrew). Significant clinical improvement occurred in the group on conventional treatment, but not in the cyclosporin group. Colonoscopic improvement was noted in 5/9 on cyclosporin and 8/14 on conventional treatment, but neither group produced a significant fall in median colonoscopic index. Histological improvement was seen in 7/8 on cyclosporin and 8/13 on conventional treatment, but cyclosporin was not significantly better. Cyclosporin produced improved clinical and histological appearance without matched improvement in blood disease indices. It was not better than conventional treatment, and simple oral administration is probably not suitable for newly diagnosed patients with Crohn's disease.
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