Remission in Crohn’s Disease

A recent article highlights the issue of remission in Crohn’s disease (CD) (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2013; 19: 1645-53).

As noted in previous blog entries (see links below), improvements in remission with ImproveCareNow and with previous drug trials have several limitations due to the current definition of remission.  Currently, even during periods of clinical remission (defined currently mainly by symptoms), laboratory or endoscopic evidence of persistent inflammation can be seen.  Persistent inflammation is likely to lead to progressive bowel damage. With the advent of more effective treatments as well as better biomarkers, a more objective measure of remission is needed.

“Remission is an evolving concept in CD. At its most fundamental level, remission should be a state with little or no risk of disease progression, likely implying the absence of biological evidence of inflammation.”

The authors proposed definitions of remission based on whether the patient has “early” disease or “late” disease.  Early disease “may be defined as disease duration ≤18 months without previous exposure to immunosuppressants or biologics.”

Early disease:

  • Biologic remission (inflammation control): a) mucosal healing on colonoscopy (no ulcers with the exception of a few aphthous ulcers <5 mm in diameter) and/or b) improvements in serum and fecal biomarkers: CRP < 5 mg/L, fecal calprotectin <250 mcg/g
  • Clinical remission in practice (symptom control): complete absence of symptoms; 1-2 formed stools per day without abdominal pain.  In a clinical trial, CDAI <150 points.
  • Outcomes: no disease progression or complications, normal quality of life

Late disease:

  • Biologic remission (inflammation control): a) mucosal healing on colonoscopy (no ulcers with the exception of a few aphthous ulcers <5 mm in diameter) and/or b) improvements in serum and fecal biomarkers: CRP < 5 mg/L, fecal calprotectin <250 mcg/g
  • Clinical remission (symptom control): a: inflammatory symptom improvement (may have residual symptoms due to previous damage or surgery). In clinical trial, CDAI 150-220 points.
  • Outcome: stabilization of noninflammatory symptoms and no progression of structural damage, improved quality of life

The authors goal is to rework remission to include symptom control and histologic/mucosal healing.  This concept is not novel.  Investigators in the adalimumab EXTEND study coined the term “deep remission.” This term referred to patients with both CDAI remission and complete mucosal healing.  Patients who achieved deep remission had improved outcomes, including fewer hospitalizations and fewer surgical resections (Gut 2010; 59: A80).

Bottomline: Improvements in both objective measures of biologic inflammation along with resolution of clinical symptoms are needed to change the long-term outcome for patients with Crohn’s disease.  The definition of remission should reflect this reality.

“When you can measure what you are speaking about and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind” –Lord Kelvin 1883

Related blog entries:

1 thought on “Remission in Crohn’s Disease

  1. Pingback: Withdrawing Therapy Leads To Relapse, Even if in Deep Remission | gutsandgrowth

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