What We Know Now: Therapeutic Drug Monitoring for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

This blog has discussed the utility of obtaining drug levels for both biologic agents and thiopurines.  A recent article (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 182-97) provides a concise up-to-date review.

Here are the key points:

  • Primary nonresponse to anti-TNF therapy (PNR) “is most commonly defined as lack of improvement of clinical signs and symptoms after the induction phase leading to discontinuation of the drug.”
  • “We think that patients who respond but fail to achieve remission…are likely almost all due to insufficient drug.”
  • Table 2 provides a list of predicting factors, both negative and positive, for PNR.  This list includes genetic mutations (e.g.. IL23R, NOD2/CARD15 variant), mucosal gene expression, clinical factors (e.g. young age, isolated colitis, smoking, nonstricturing disease, concomitant immunomodulators) and serologic (eg. CRP, hemoglobin, and presence of pANCA).
  • Patients with PNR to a TNF antagonist, “despite therapeutic concentrations of drug and no anti-drug antibodies (ADA), would likely benefit from a switch to an alternative drug with a different mechanism of action.”
  • “Patients with a high baseline inflammatory load…and increased clearance of drug because of a high turnover would likely benefit from higher induction doses.”  This hypothesis has been proven in rheumatoid arthritis patients in which patients with high TNF concentrations had a clinical response to 10 mg/kg that was “significantly better than the response to 3 and 6 mg/kg of infliximab.”
  • Patients (with ADA) with an “early immunogenic response against the TNF antagonist are unlikely to respond to dose escalation and thus should be switched to another TNF antagonist, and it should be considered to give higher induction doses in combination with an IMM [immunomodulator] to reduce the risk of immunogenicity.”

Take-home message: New definition of primary nonresponse to anti-TNF agent: “a lack of improvement of objectively assessed signs of active inflammation at baseline, after the induction phase despite the presence of adequate concentrations of drug and the absence of anti drug antibodies.”

Also noted: “Surgical management of ulcerative colitis in the era of biologicals” Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 208-10. Key point: “Sacrificing the non responsive diseased colon is an underused or unnecessarily delayed chance to normalize ..health and life.”  “Deconditioning of patient with unreasonably long escalations of ineffective medications adds to the morbidity of surgical intervention.”

“Automimmune Features are Associated with Chronic Antibiotic-refractory Pouchitis”Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015; 21: 110-20. Key point: “Microsomal antibody expression and elevated IgG4-positive plasma cell infiltration were independent risk factors” for chronic antibiotic-refractory pouchitis.”

Update on MOC (recent blog:Resistance to Maintenance of Certification | gutsandgrowth) American Board of Internal Medicine “We Got It Wrong” “We launched programs that weren’t ready and we didn’t deliver an MOC program that physicians found meaningful. We want to change that.”

Related blog posts:

6 thoughts on “What We Know Now: Therapeutic Drug Monitoring for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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