Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn's disease (CD) and Ulcerative Colitis (UC) are the two major types affecting millions across the globe. Various Immunomodulatory drugs consisting of small molecules (thiopurines, methotrexate and tofacitinib) and biologics are used to treat IBD. Thiopurines (TP) are widely used in the treatment of IBD and it plays an important role both alone and in combination with anti-TNF agents as IBD maintenance therapy. Although the advent of biologics therapy has significantly advanced the management of IBD, TP remains the mainstay of treatment in resource-limited and low economic settings. However, the recently commenced pandemic has raised uncertainty over the safety of the use of immunosuppressant drugs such as TP among healthcare care providers and patients, as there is a scarcity of data on whether IBD patients are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection or more prone to its severe outcomes. Aim: This review aims to encapsulate evidence on the risk of COVID-19 infection and its severe prognosis in IBD patients on TP. Additionally, it also evaluates the role of TP in inhibiting the viral protease, a potential drug target, essential for the replication and pathogenesis of the virus. Conclusion: Emerging evidence suggests that TP therapy is safe during the current pandemic and does not carry an elevated risk when used as monotherapy on in combination with other IBD drugs. In-vitro studies demonstrate that TP is a potential therapeutic for present and future betacoronavirus pandemics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109597
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 03-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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