What is the role of 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and azathioprine (AZA) in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)?

Updated: Apr 10, 2020
  • Author: William A Rowe, MD; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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The immunomodulators 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP) and azathioprine (AZA) are used in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in whom remission is difficult to maintain with the aminosalicylates alone, or they can be started in patients with more moderate to severe disease whereas steroids are used to induce remission. Calcineurin inhibitors such as cyclosporine A (CSA) and tacrolimus, as well as methotrexate (MTX), are also immune-modifying agents [1] ; CSA is almost exclusively limited to acute severe colitis, whereas tacrolimus has been used in both perianal Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis. [1]

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