Toxic Megacolon Medication

Updated: Mar 16, 2021
  • Author: Fadi Alali, MD; Chief Editor: Burt Cagir, MD, FACS  more...
  • Print

Medication Summary

Medications that may aid in controlling or treating toxic megacolon include corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and/or immunomodulators. Antibiotics may be administered to prevent or treat infection.

Note that certain agents may exacerbate toxic megacolon, such as opioids, antidepressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, antidiarrheals, and anticholinergics.



Class Summary

Corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory properties and cause profound and varied metabolic effects. Corticosteroids also modify the body's immune response to diverse stimuli.

Hydrocortisone (Solu-Cortef, Cortef)

Hydrocortisone decreases inflammation by suppressing the migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and reversing increased capillary permeability.

Methylprednisolone (A-Methapred, Depo-Medrol, Medrol, Solu-Medrol)

Methylprednisolone decreases inflammation by suppressing the migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and reversing increased capillary permeability.


Immunosuppressant Agents

Class Summary

Immunosuppressant agents inhibit immune reactions resulting from diverse stimuli.

Cyclosporine (Neoral, Gengraf, Sandimmune)

Cyclosporine is used in acute, severe ulcerative colitis that is refractory to IV corticosteroids. An 11-amino acid cyclic peptide and a natural product of fungi, it acts on T-cell replication and activity.

Cyclosporine is a specific modulator of T-cell function and an agent that depresses cell-mediated immune responses by inhibiting helper T-cell function. Preferential and reversible inhibition of T lymphocytes in the G0 or G1 phase of the cell cycle is suggested.

Cyclosporine binds to cyclophilin, an intracellular protein, which, in turn, prevents formation of interleukin-2 and the subsequent recruitment of activated T cells.

Cyclosporine has about 30% bioavailability, but there is marked interindividual variability. This agent specifically inhibits T-lymphocyte function, with minimal activity against B cells. Maximum suppression of T-lymphocyte proliferation requires that the drug be present during the first 24 hours of antigenic exposure.

Cyclosporine suppresses some humoral immunity and, to a greater extent, cell-mediated immune reactions (eg, delayed hypersensitivity, allograft rejection, experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, graft-vs-host disease) for a variety of organs.



Class Summary

Immunomodulatory agents regulate immune reactions that are responsible for inflammation.

Infliximab (Remicade)

Infliximab neutralizes the cytokine TNF-alpha and inhibits its binding to the TNF-alpha receptor. Mix in 250 mL normal saline for infusion over 2 hours. It must be used with a low-protein-binding filter (1.2 µm or less).