Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) are thought to result from unopposed immune responses to normal gut flora in a genetically susceptible host. A variety of immunomodulating therapies are applied for the treatment of patients with IBDs. The first-line treatment for IBDs consists of 5-aminosalicylate and/or budesonide. However, these first-line therapies are often not suitable for continuous treatment or do not suffice for the treatment of severe IBD. Recently, efforts have been made to generate novel selective drugs that are more effective and have fewer side effects. Despite promising results, most of these novel drugs are still in a developmental stage and unavailable for clinical application. Yet, another class of established immunomodulators exists that is successful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases. While waiting for emerging novel therapies, the use of these more established drugs should be considered. Furthermore, one of the advantages of using established immunomodulators is the well-documented knowledge on the long-term side effects and on the mechanisms of action. In this review, the authors discuss 3 well-known immunomodulators that are being applied with increased frequency for the treatment of IBD: tacrolimus, methotrexate, and mycophenolate mofetil. These agents have been used for many years as treatment modalities for immunosuppression after organ transplantation, for the treatment of cancer, and for immunomodulation in several other immune-mediated diseases. First, this review discusses the potential targets for immunomodulating therapies in IBDs. Second, the immunomodulating mechanisms and effects of the 3 immunomodulators are discussed in relationship to these treatment targets. Copyright

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Inflammatory Bowel Diseases
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

van Dieren, J.M, Kuipers, E.J, Samsom, J.N, Nieuwenhuis, E.E.S, & van der Woude, C.J. (2006). Revisiting the immunomodulators tacrolimus, methotrexate, and mycophenolate mofetil: Their mechanisms of action and role in the treatment of IBD. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (Vol. 12, pp. 311–327). doi:10.1097/01.MIB.0000209787.19952.53