Withdrawing Therapy Leads To Relapse, Even if in Deep Remission

A recent study, presented as an oral abstract (thanks to Jeff Lewis for forwarding this reference), indicates that even in patients in deep remission, withdrawal of anti-TNF therapy leads to relapse in about 50% even when thiopurines are continued; this is in agreement with previous posts (see below).

Full abstract: OP007 Relapse after Deep Remission in Crohn’s disease. Here are the results and conclusion from the abstract:


Sixty one patients were included and followed-up for a median of 28 months (range 7-47). After withdrawal of anti- TNFa therapy (44 infliximab and 17 adalimumab) 47 (77%) patients continued thiopurines. 32 (52.5%) patients relapsed until the end of follow-up with a median time to relapse of 8 months (range 1-25). The cumulative probability of maintaining remission was 82% at 6 months, 59% at 1 year and 51% at 2 years. Analysis of 28 patients who were in deep remission (endoscopic healing; faecal calprotectin <150mg/kg; CRP <5mg/l) revealed no better survival (82%, 64% and 40% at 6 months, 1 and 2 years, respectively). Four (8%) of relapsing CD patients required surgery 5 to 19 months after anti-TNFa cessation (2 for new stricture development, 1 for medically refractory flare and 1 for high grade dysplasia). In multivariate model only disease localization was risk factor of disease relapse (colonic vs. ileal/ileocolonic: OR 0.16, 95%CI: 0.03-0.72; p=0.02). Type of anti- TNFa preparation, smoking, disease behaviour, corticosteroid or thiopurine therapy, biological markers and anti-TNFa trough levels did not impact disease relapse.


Approximately half of CD patients relapsed within 2 years after anti- TNFa discontinuation despite being in endoscopic remission when anti-TNFa was stopped. The highest relapse rate was observed during the 1st year. Ileal disease increased the risk of disease flare, while no other risk factor was identified.

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