Development of severe colitis in Takayasu arteritis treated with tocilizumab

Kae Ishii, Tsuyoshi Shirai, Yoichi Kakuta, Tomoaki Machiyama, Hiroko Sato, Tomonori Ishii, Hideo Harigae, Hiroshi Fujii

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Relapse of Takayasu arteritis (TAK) is frequent, and the use of biologics is required in refractory cases. Tocilizumab (TCZ), a biological agent used in TAK, is known to increase the incidence of diverticulitis in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Adverse events of TCZ in TAK have been poorly recognised. This study aimed to investigate the occurrence of severe colitis among patients with TAK receiving TCZ. We enrolled 116 patients with TAK who met the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology and visited our department between 2018 and 2020. The occurrence of severe colitis and its clinical characteristics were retrospectively evaluated. TCZ was introduced in 34 of 116 patients (29.3%). Severe colitis that required hospitalisation was observed in three of the 34 patients receiving TCZ (8.8%). All patients were female and had Numano type V artery lesions, and the ascending colon was commonly affected. Wide lesions that reached the sigmoid colon, colonic perforation, bacteraemia, or positive stool cultures were observed in some patients. All patients received antibiotics and intestinal rest, and TCZ was resumed in one patient. IL-6 plays a physiological role in the intestine, including recovery from ischaemic damage. In addition to infectious aetiology, blocking the physiological roles of IL-6 by TCZ is considered important for the development of colitis in TAK. Severe colitis is an important adverse event in patients with TAK who receive TCZ. The risk of bloodstream infection associated with colitis should be recognised, especially in patients who have undergone vascular surgery. Key Points• Severe colitis was observed in 8.8% of patients with TAK receiving tocilizumab• Patients had type V artery lesions and ascending colon involvement and were under long-term use of corticosteroids• Inhibition of the physiological roles of IL-6 in the intestinal tract might also be involved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1911-1918
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jun


  • Colitis
  • IL-6
  • Takayasu arteritis
  • Tocilizumab

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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