Adults with ulcerative colitis on oral mesalazine and scheduled for colonoscopy were eligible for inclusion in this cross-sectional study. Stool and urine samples were collected for 48 and 24 hours, respectively, and rectal biopsies were performed. (N-acetyl-)5-ASA was measured using mass spectrometry. Biochemically active disease was defined as a fecal calprotectin level above 100 mcg/g and endoscopically active disease as any activity following the endoscopic Mayo score (≥1).
Approximately 28 patients were included in the study. Daily fecal excretion of (N-acetyl-)5-ASA did not differ between patients with (n = 13) and without (n = 15) endoscopically active disease [median 572 mg/d versus 597 mg/d ( P = 0.86) for 5-ASA and 572 mg/d versus 554 mg/d ( P = 0.86) for N-acetyl-5-ASA]. The same applied to the fecal concentration [median 9.7 mcg/mg dry weight versus 10.3 ( P = 0.53) and 12.0 versus 9.9 ( P = 0.89)]. The results were comparable when the biochemical disease activity definition was used. The mucosal concentrations and urinary excretion of (N-acetyl-)5-ASA did not differentiate between quiescent and active activity.
Fecal (N-acetyl-)5-ASA measurements do not correlate with disease activity, which renders it an unsuitable tool for therapeutic drug monitoring of mesalazine.
Therapeutic drug monitoring of mesalazine (5-ASA) in patients with ulcerative colitis is unavailable. Mucosal 5-ASA concentrations are assumed to be higher during remission, but biopsy is not practical. Therefore, we investigated the feasibility of measuring mesalazine levels in feces. To explore the potential role of fecal mesalazine measurements in therapeutic drug monitoring, we compared the dry fecal concentration and daily fecal excretion of 5-ASA and its metabolite N-acetyl-5-ASA in patients with ulcerative colitis with active and quiescent disease.