Histologic Healing and IBD Outcomes

Several recent studies recently evaluated outcomes based on histologic healing compared to endoscopic remission.

RK Pai et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2510-2517. Full text link: Complete Resolution of Mucosal Neutrophils Associates With Improved Long-Term Clinical Outcomes of Patients With Ulcerative Colitis n=281.Key findings:

  • “We found histologic evidence of UC activity (Geboes score ≥ 2B.1) in biopsies from 182 patients (65%) and endoscopic evidence of UC activity in 149 patients (53%) (substantial agreement, κ = 0.60).”
  • “Histologic features of UC activity were associated with increased rates of systemic corticosteroid use, colectomy, and hospitalization in the entire cohort (P < .05 for all) and associated with increased rates of systemic corticosteroid use in an analysis limited to patients in endoscopic remission (P < .001).”

B Christensen et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2518-2525. Full text link: Histologic Healing Is More Strongly Associated with Clinical Outcomes in Ileal Crohn’s Disease than Endoscopic Healing This was a a retrospective study of 101 patients with CD (52% male) isolated to the terminal ileum. Key findings:

  • At ileo-colonoscopy, 63% of patients had endoscopic healing and 55% had histologic evidence of healing. The level of agreement between endoscopic and histologic activity was fair (62%, K = 0.2250, P = .0064)
  • On multivariate analysis, only histologic healing was associated with decreased risk of clinical relapse (hazard ratio [HR], 2.05; 95% CI, 1.07–3.94; P = .031), medication escalation (HR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.2–3.96; P = .011), and corticosteroid use (HR, 2.44; 95% CI, 1.17–5.09; P = .018).
Kaplan-Meier analysis of effect of endoscopic and histologic activity on (A) clinical relapse-free survival versus histologic healing, (B) clinical relapse-free survival versus endoscopic healing

D Kevans et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1722-1729. Histological Markers of Clinical Relapse in Endoscopically Quiescent Ulcerative Colitis Key finding: In endoscopically quiescent UC (n=76), active histological inflammation …[is] adjunctive histological marker associated with increased likelihood of disease relapse. The associated editorial (1730-32 by Asher Kornbluth) quotes Voltaire: “A wise Italian says that the best is the enemy of the good.” He notes that there is “a very real risk of abandoning an effective drug while chasing the goal of some yet to be universally defined histologic remission.” Currently organizational guidelines (ACG, AGA, ECCO, IOIBD) do NOT suggest the use of histologic normalization as an endpoint at this point.

My take: These studies show that histologic healing in ileal Crohn’s disease and in ulcerative colitis are associated with better outcomes that endoscopic appearance. However, there are a lot questions because many patients, possibly a majority, will not achieve histologic healing despite aggressive treatment. Related technical issues include how many biopsies are needed to assess histology and having a validated histologic assessment.

Related blog posts:

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In Case You Missed It: IBD Year in Review (Eric Benchimol)

I did not have the opportunity to hear this #NASPGHAN20 lecture but Dr. Benchimol has shared his slides. Link to Dropbox Slides: IBD Clinical Science: Year in Review

Some of the key points on slides (links to articles below):

Some screenshots:

Links to many of the referenced papers:

Related links:

Outcomes Associated with Delayed Diagnosis in Pediatric Crohn’s Disease

A Ricciuto et al. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis; 2020. jjaa197, https://doi.org/10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjaa197 Link: Diagnostic Delay Is Associated with Complicated Disease and Growth Impairment in Paediatric Crohn’s Disease

Methods: “We conducted a national, prospective multi-centre IBD inception cohort study, including 1399 children. Diagnostic delay was defined as time from symptom onset to diagnosis >75 th percentile.”

Key findings:

  • In CD, diagnostic delay was associated with a 2.5-times higher rate of strictures/internal fistulae (HR 2.53, 95% CI 1.41-4.56)
  • Every additional month of diagnostic delay was associated with a decrease in height-for-age z-score of 0.13 standard deviations
  • Diagnostic delay was more common in CD, particularly small bowel CD

My take: Delays in diagnosis in this study were associated with stricturing/internal fistulising complications and growth impairment in paediatric CD.  It is likely that inadequate treatment would increase the risk of these problems as well.

Related blog posts:

Shared Genetic Risk of Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Collagenous Colitis

E Stahl et al. Gastroenterol 2020; DOI:https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.04.063 Link: Collagenous Colitis Is Associated With HLA Signature and Shares Genetic Risks With Other Immune-Mediated Diseases

“In this largest genetic study of CC to date with histologically confirmed diagnosis, we strongly implicated the HLA locus and proposed potential non-HLA mechanisms in disease pathogenesis. We also detected a shared genetic risk between CC, celiac disease, CD, and UC.”


Crohn’s Disease Anastomotic Ulcerations

A recent retrospective study (RP Hirten et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1050-1058Anastomotic Ulcers After Ileocolic Resection for Crohn’s Disease Are Common and Predict Recurrence) showed that anastomotic ulcers occur in over half of Crohn’s disease patients after ileocolic resection and are associated with Crohn’s disease recurrence and are persistent.

Key findings:

  • Anastomotic ulcers were present in 95 (52.2%) subjects. No factors were associated with anastomotic ulcer development.
  • Anastomotic ulcers were associated with disease recurrence (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 3.64)

The associated editorial by Philllip Fleshner (pg 1059) identifies are a number of methodologic flaws, noting that less than 20% of all ileocolonic resections were included and marked variability in postoperative assessment (from 29 days to 2897 days).

My take: (borrowed from the editorial) the “findings should convince us that anastomotic ulcers do not represent ischemic changes but are rather a reflection of disease progression.”  Prospective studies with standardized surveillance would be helpful.


IBD Update -September 2020

EM Kim et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1232-38. Mucosal Eosinophilia Is an Independent Predictor of Vedolizumab Efficacy in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases n=65 patients. In IBD cohort, colonic eosinophilia (340 +/- 156 vs 236 +/- 124) was associated with clinical non-response to vedolizumab (as was prior anti-TNF treatment). In those with ulcerative colitis, mean eosinophil count was 438 in nonresponders compared to 299 in responders. In those with Crohn’s disease, colonic biopsies showed a non-significant increase in eosinophil count in non-responders compared to responders: 352 vs. 232.

MA Sofia et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1251-9. Poor Sleep Quality in Crohn’s Disease Is Associated With Disease Activity and Risk for Hospitalization or Surgery

  • Ninety-two CD and 82 control subjects
  • Crohn’s disease subjects with Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) >5 more often had inflammatory phenotypes and reported increased benzodiazepine and psychiatric medication use. Crohn’s disease subjects with PSQI >5 also reported more night awakenings due to pain and bathroom use.
  • The PSQI correlated with HBI
  • PSQI >8 was predictive of surgery or hospitalization (hazards ratio 5.37; 95% confidence interval, 1.39-27.54).

My take: This study indicates that poor sleep is a marker for increased adverse outcomes/disease activity.  It may be that sleep disturbance is due to increased disease activity or this may be a bidirectional issue in which poor sleep triggers more disease activity as well.

A Ricciuto et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1509-1517. Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis in Children With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Is Associated With Milder Clinical Activity But More Frequent Subclinical Inflammation and Growth Impairment

This retrospective study provides additional information on the observation that children with PSC often have subclinical disease; it is similar to a prospective study by the same group in 2018 (n=37):  (prior blog post: Active Colitis More Likely in Children in Clinical Remission Who Have IBD and PSC) Key finding: Higher proportions of children with PSC-IBD had backwash ileitis, pancolitis, and rectal sparing, and more severe right-sided disease, than controls (P < .05). Conclusions: “Despite the mild clinical activity of IBD in patients with PSC, lack of symptoms does not always indicate lack of mucosal inflammation. Children with PSC-IBD have greater growth impairments compared with children with ulcerative colitis or IBD-unclassified.”

Which Crohn’s Disease Ulcerations Are Harder to Treat — Small Bowel or Colon?

K Takenaka et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1545-1552. Small Bowel Healing Detected by Endoscopy in Patients With Crohn’s Disease After Treatment With Antibodies Against Tumor Necrosis Factor

Methods: This was a post-hoc analysis of data from a clinical trial from 116 patients with CD (46 with ileal and 70 with ileocolonic type) who received induction and then maintenance therapy with anti-TNF agents (2013-18). Median age 29 years.

Key findings (based on findings from balloon-assisted enteroscopy )

  • Before treatment, small bowel ulcerations were present in 114 patients (98%); 42 patients (60%) with ileocolonic disease had colon ulcerations.
  • During maintenance therapy, 41/114 patients (36%) had small bowel endoscopic healing; all the patients with small bowel endoscopic healing also had colonic endoscopic healing.
  • Failure to achieve small bowel endoscopic healing was significantly associated with stricturing or penetrating disease (P = .014), lack of concomitant treatment with immunomodulators (P = .015), and having received previous treatment with an anti-TNF agents (P = .018).
  • The authors found that endoscopic healing was only 35% (36% for small bowel and 79% for colonic inflammation)

My take: Small bowel inflammation did not respond to treatment as well as colonic inflammation.  The implication of this study is that even in patients who are doing well clinically with treatment, disease progression especially in the small bowel may be ongoing.

Briefly noted: M Kayal et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 1079-1086.  Inflammatory Pouch Conditions Are Common After Ileal Pouch Anal Anastomosis in Ulcerative Colitis Patients.

  • In this retrospective study of adults with ulcerative colitis who had undergone total proctocolectomy (TPC) with ileal pouch anal anastomosis (IPAA). Acute pouchitis occurred in 205 patients (53%), 60 of whom (30%) progressed to chronic pouchitis.
  • Cuffitis and Crohn’s disease-like condition (CDLC) of the pouch occurred in 119 (30%) patients and 46 (12%) patients
  • Pouch failure was noted in 6.7%
  • Only one-third of patients with chronic pouchitiis, cuffitis and CDLC responded to biologic therapy

Related blog posts:

Intestinal Barrier Function and Risk of Crohn’s Disease

Several recent studies have examined biomarkers to predict Crohn’s disease.  A recent prospective study (W Turpin et al. Gastroenterol 2020; DOI: https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.08.005Increased Intestinal Permeability is Associated with Later Development of Crohn’s Disease) sought to determine whether increased intestinal permeability, as measured by urinary fractional excretion of lactulose to mannitol ratio (LMR), is associated with future development of CD.

Methods: 1420 asymptomatic first-degree relatives (6–35 years old) of patients with CD (collected from 2008 through 2015) had LMR measured and were then followed for a diagnosis of CD from 2008 to 2017, with a median follow up time of 7.8 years. We analyzed data from 50 participants who developed CD after a median of 2.7 years during the study period, along with 1370 individuals who remained asymptomatic until October 2017

Key findings:

  • An abnormal LMR (> 0.03) was associated with diagnosis of CD during the follow-up period (hazard ratio, 3.03; 95% CI, 1.64–5.63; P=3.97×10 -4).
  • This association remained significant even when the test was performed more than 3 years before the diagnosis of CD (hazard ratio, 1.62, 95% CI, 1.051–2.50; P=.029).

My take:  It remains unclear whether abnormal barrier function primarily precedes or follows CD development.  The authors state that these findings support a model in which altered intestinal barrier function contributes to pathogenesis.

Does a Low Vitamin D Level Increase the Risk of Crohn’s Disease? And Other Biomarkers

A recent study (BN Limketkai et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1769-76Levels of Vitamin D Are Low After Crohn’s Disease Is Established But Not Before) takes advantage of stored serum from U.S. military personnel.

Key finding: By examining 240 with Crohn’s disease (CD) along with 240 control patients, the authors show that vitamin D levels prior to CD diagnosis are not associated with the development of CD up to 8 years preceding the diagnosis.

Two other articles on predictive biomarkers for CD and an associated editorial:

  • N Nair et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 159: 383-5. Association Between Early-life Exposures and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Based on Analyses of Deciduous Teeth
  • J Torres, F Petralia et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 159: 96-104Serum Biomarkers Identify Patients Who Will Develop Inflammatory Bowel Diseases Up to 5 Years Before Diagnosis
  • New Biomarkers for Crohn’s Disease (editorial) C Bernstein. Gastroenterol 2020; 159: 30-32. Key points from editorial:
    • “In the article by Nair et al, the authors relate the presence of heavy metals in baby teeth to the later development of Crohn’s disease…The finding of metals that can be tracked to the in utero state suggests that the offspring who will ultimately present with IBD and have high values of these metals are likely acquiring these metals from their mothers.”
    • “In the study by Torres et al, a serum bank of Department of Defense recruits was accessed to study for microbial antibodies and immune-inflammatory markers for ≤5 years antedating diagnoses of either Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Anti-Flagellin X and ASCA-IgA were predictive of Crohn’s disease…The authors have convincingly showed that these microbial antibodies and immune-inflammatory mediators are present years before the first clinical manifestation of Crohn’s disease. These phenomena very likely are early biological manifestations of Crohn’s disease. They may not be risk factors that Crohn’s disease is coming, but rather that it is already present.”

My take: Stored tissue/blood eventually may help predict who will develop CD.  Given a lack of current treatment options in those at risk, the importance of these predictive markers is unclear.

Briefly Noted: How to Approach Crohn’s Disease Complicated by an Intra-abdominal Abscess

A recent review (T Qazi, M Regueiro. Practical Gastroenterology 2020: June Issue, 10-18. Full PDF Link: Crohn’s Disease Complicated by an Intra-abdominal Abscess: Poke, Prod, or Cut?)

The article is a good review & the algorithm below provides some good guidance -if difficult to visualize, then it may be worthwhile to look at source article.

The authors propose initial management with antibiotics, minimization of steroids, nutritional support and drainage.

Medical treatment is favored after initial management:

  • Newly diagnosed Crohn’s disease
  • Extensive disease
  • No fibrostenoting disease
  • Active perianal disease

Surgical treatment is favored after initial management:

  • Long-standing disease
  • Stricture with dilatation
  • Abscess >6 cm in size
  • Prior surgical intervention

The authors note that “recent studies have suggested that roughly 30% of patients
treated with PD are able to avoid future surgical resection.”

Related blog posts: