Colchicine – new horizons for an ancient drug. Review based on the highest hierarchy of evidence

Published:October 14, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejim.2021.10.002

      Highlights

      • Colchicine can inhibit myriad pathways of the inflammatory response that can be harmful to the host.
      • Colchicine's role (+NSAID) in ac. idiopathic pericarditis and postcardiac injury syndrome is well-established.
      • RCTs support significant secondary prevention of composite CVR endpoint by low-doses.
      • Initial results suggest a promising potential effects in COVID-19.
      • Colchicine is inexpensive, and in the low-doses used (≤ 1 mg/d), safe and well-tolerated.

      Abstract

      Colchicine is an old, inexpensive, and relatively safe anti-inflammatory drug traditionally used in gout and over the last 50 years in familial Mediterranean fever. A search of all high-hierarchy studies (randomized controlled trials [RCTs], systematic reviews and meta-analysis of RCTs) over the last 20 years revealed myriad other evidence-based applications. Colchicine seems efficacious in the treatment of acute pericarditis and prevention of recurrences and in the prevention of postcardiac injury syndrome and atrial fibrillation following cardiac surgery or percutaneous interventions. In patients already fully treated with statins and antiplatelet agents following acute coronary syndromes or stable coronary disease, adding low-dose colchicine achieved secondary prevention of major cardiovascular events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or cardiovascular death) with pooled risk reduction 0.75. Colchicine may also be useful in Behcet's syndrome and most recently, in improving outcomes of COVID-19 infection. Colchicine in the low doses used in most trials (≤ 1 mg/d) was generally safe and well-tolerated, excepting diarrhea (approximately 10%) which sometimes led to drug discontinuation. Further RCTs are required to confirm these results, and will likely lead to expanding indications for low-dose colchicine. Increasing numbers of patients will be treated with colchicine in the near future, with improved health outcomes, as long as basic caveats are heeded.

      Keywords

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