Objective: To assess the results with colchicine and prednisone as initial single-drug therapy in patients with usual interstitial pneumonia (UIP). Material and Methods: We reviewed the serial pulmonary function test results in 22 patients with typical clinical and high-resolution computed tomographic features of UIP who were treated with colchicine as initial single-agent therapy and compared them with a group of 22 historical patients with UIP of similar severity diagnosed by open-lung biopsy who were given prednisone as initial single-drug therapy. Results: No significant difference was detected in the rate of decline of pulmonary function or in the time to 'failure' between the two study groups. A trend was suggested for more rapid decline of pulmonary function in the prednisone-treated than in the colchicine-treated group. The design of this study does not allow distinction between a possible beneficial effect of colchicine and a possible adverse effect related to weaning from high-dose prednisone. Colchicine was well tolerated; few side effects other than mild diarrhea were noted in those patients able to take the drug long enough to return for pulmonary function testing at 3 months. In comparison, the side effects of prednisone were more serious and were not always reversible with cessation of therapy. Conclusion: This study lends further support to the assumption that colchicine may be a satisfactory and less hazardous substitute for prednisone in the treatment of patients with UIP.
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