Alterations in Microbes and Impaired Psychological Function in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Briefly noted: F Humbel et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2019-2029. Association of Alterations in Intestinal Microbiota With Impaired Psychological Function in Patients With Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Remission

In a prospective study with 171 adults with IBD in remission, the authors combined

  1. measures of psychological comorbidities and quality of life (QoL)
  2. microbial analysis with 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing

Key findings:

  • Microbiomes of patients with higher perceived stress had significantly lower alpha diversity
  • Anxiety and depressive symptoms were significantly associated with beta diversity

My take: This study adds another dimension to the idea of bidirectionality between psychological well-being and course of inflammatory bowel disease.  The microbiome may directly influence both psychological well-being and IBD activity.

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1st Cases of COVID-19 in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease –All Mild

A recent case series, D Turner et al. JPGN June 2020 – Volume 70 – Issue 6 – p 727-733 doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002729: Full text: Corona Virus Disease 2019 and Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

  • Eight PIBD children had COVID-19 globally, all with mild infection without needing hospitalization despite treatment with immunomodulators and/or biologics. ..
  • Preliminary data for PIBD patients during COVID-19 outbreak are reassuring. Standard IBD treatments including biologics should continue at present through the pandemic, especially in children who generally have more severe IBD course on one hand, and milder SARS-CoV-2 infection on the other.

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New and Improved Biomarker Blood Test for Crohn’s Disease?

A recent study (G D’Haens, O Kelly, R Battat et al. Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 515-26,editorial 463) describes the development and validation of a blood test panel to assess Crohn’s disease (CD) endoscopic activity level.  The authors evaluated a blood test which measured 13 proteins in the blood using samples from 278 patients.  Then there were two validation cohorts:

  • 116 biologic-naive CD patients -cohort 1
  • 195 biologic-exposed CD patients -cohort 2

The blood tests were used to develop an endoscopic healing index (EHI) score (0-100). Higher scores indicate greater disease activity.

Key findings:

  • EHI values below 20 identified remission with a sensitivity of 97.1%  and 83.2% in cohorts 1 & 2 respectively; specificity was 69% and 37% respectively.
  • EHI values below 50 points identified patients with highest specificity of 100% and 88% in cohorts 1 and 2 respectively.
  • EHI AUROC (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve) did not differ significantly from that of fecal calprotectin and were higher than measurement of serum CRP (in cohort 1 but not cohort 2).

The editorial notes that the EHI performed much better in younger, biologically-naive patients and that the EHI could potentially be incorporated into a treat-to-target strategy which would potentially entail followup endoscopy in those with EHI >50.

My take: While the stool calprotectin has some logistical barriers in many patients, the EHI is likely a much more expensive test and needs further validation.  For now, the combination of CRP and calprotectin are the best noninvasive biomarkers to assess CD activity.

Briefly noted: Vedolizumab-Induced Pulmonary Toxicity -Case report of a patient with ulcerative colitis who developed interstitial lung disease (Gastroenterol 2020; 158: 478-9).

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IBD Pediatric Costs & Cannabis Still No Data for IBD

Happy birthday to my favorite follower!!!

A recent single-center study (AW Fondell et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 635-40, editorial by Joel Rosh, 641-2) examined the first-year costs of children with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in 2016.  There were 67 patients (43 with Crohn’s disease (CD), and 24 with ulcerative colitis (UC)).

Key findings:

  • Mean cost was $45,753; $43,095 for CD, $50,516 for UC
  • Severe CD (n=11) was $71,176 and severe UC (n=5) was $134,178; it is notable that only one patient with CD had surgery and only one patient with UC had surgery.
  • Overall cost distribution: 37% from infusion costs, 25% hospital costs, 18% outpatient procedures, 10% outpatient oral medications, 7% outpatient imaging and 3% outpatient visits.
  • 69% of CD patients and 33% of UC patients received biologics
  • 21% (n=9) of CD patients and 45% (n=11) of UC patients were hospitalized
  • Private payer reimbursement was a mean of $51,269 compared to $24,610 mean for Medicaid.


  • In any cost analysis, many assumptions are needed.  For medications, for example, the author used pharmaceutical retail prices.  The actual costs are near-impossible to calculate as every insurance policy and every hospital system has a multitude of charges based on proprietary negotiations.
  • While this data comes from a referral center, all of the patients in the study were from Connecticut.

Due to the expense of care, Dr. Rosh points out that many insurers have often mandated the use of “standard dosing” of biologic therapy, “ignoring that robust data” indicate that this dosing is “the exception rather than the rule in pediatric IBD patients.”  These type of short-sighted interventions could affect long-term medical outcomes.

My take: There clearly are areas where costs can be reduced (eg. lower infusion costs, lower endoscopy costs, biosimilars).  However, no amount of cost cutting will change the conclusion that good care for IBD is expensive.

Briefly noted: TS Kafil et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 502-9.   This study examined evidence for cannabis effectiveness in IBD.  After performing a literature search, the authors could only identify five randomized controlled trials (n=185).  Each study used different doses, formulations and routes of administration.  No studies evaluated maintenance treatment and relapse in CD or UC.  Findings: “no firm conclusions can be made regarding the safety and effectiveness of cannabis and cannabionoids in adults with CD and UC.”

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Cobb County -Concord Covered Bridge Historic District


Ups (mostly) and Downs with IBD Epidemiology

Two articles describe both increasing and decreasing trends in the prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

  • Y Ye et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 619-25, editorial 626-27
  • M Torabi et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2020; 26: 581-90, editorial 591-92 

The first study by Ye et al provides the familiar message that IBD prevalence has been increasing in pediatrics and adults.  This study examined 2 large claims databases.  The Optum database covered ~18 million annually during the study period (total ~57 million from 2007-2017) and Truven covered ~44 million annually (total ~240 million since 1995)

Key findings:

  • Pediatric IBD prevalence increased by 133% from 2007 to 2016: from 33 per 100,000 to 77 per 100,000. Crohn’s disease (CD) was twice as prevalent as ulcerative colitis (UC) in the pediatric population (46 vs 22)
  • Adult IBD prevalence increased by 123% from 2007 to 2016: from 215 per 100,000 to 478 per 100,000. The prevalence rates of CD and UC were similar in adults: 198 vs 181)
  • The Northeast region had the highest prevalence of IBD, followed by Midwest, South and then West.
  • Based on these prevalence data, there are an estimated 58,000 children (2-17) and 1.2 million adults with IBD in U.S.   Or, 1 in 1299 children and 1 in 209 adults.


  • Diagnosis and data derived from claims database
  • Cases can vary significantly based on how sensitive the definition for IBD is in a given study.  In this study, the authors indicate in supplementary material, that the prevalence rates could be doubled in adults if they chose a more sensitive/less specific case definitions.

The second study by Torabi et al, which utilized the Manitoba Epidemiology Database (n=1.2 million) showed a decrease in IBD incidence.  The authors examined 296 small geographic areas (SGAs) and found that many had persistently high IBD incidence rates.

Key findings:

  • The incidence of IBD decreased from 1990 when it was 23.6 per 100,000 to 16.2 per 100,000 in 2012.
  • In the study period (1990-2012), there were 3114 cases of CD and 3499 cases of UC diagnosed in Manitoba

In the discussion, the authors speculate on the reasons for the decline in IBD incidence in an area with high rates of IBD.  Some of the change may be related to changes in the population mix –more immigrants from areas with lower rates of IBD.  In the editorial, it is noted that a recent systematic review (Lancet 2018; 390: 2769-78) indicated that the “incidence of IBD is stabilizing in Western countries.”

My take: There are a lot kids and adults with IBD.  The preponderance of epidemiology studies point to increasing incidence and prevalence.

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Rock art during “social distancing”

Using Spot Urine Sodiums

A recent study (AKN Pedersen et al. JPEN shows the utility of obtaining urine spot sodiums in patients with an ileostomy. Thanks to Kipp Ellsworth for sharing this reference.

Full link: A Single Urine Sodium Measurement May Validly Estimate 24‐hour Urine Sodium Excretion in Patients With an Ileostomy

Background: Sodium deficiency in patients with an ileostomy is associated with chronic dehydration and may be difficult to detect. We aimed to investigate if the sodium concentration in a single spot urine sample may be used as a proxy for 24‐hour urine sodium excretion.

Design: In this prospective, observational study, we included 16 adult individuals: 8 stable patients with an ileostomy and 8 healthy volunteers with intact intestines

Key finding:

  • There was a high and statistically significant correlation between 24‐hour natriuresis and urine sodium concentrations in both morning spot samples (n = 8, Spearman’s rho [ρ] = 0.78, P = 0.03) and midday spot samples (n = 8, ρ = 0.82, P = 0.02) in the patients with an ileostomy.

My take: In patients with ileostomy (and also short bowel syndrome), periodic urine sodium values (from morning or mid-day) will help detect subclinical sodium depletion.

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Atlanta Botanical Gardens

#NASPGHAN17 Annual Meeting Notes (Part 2): Year in Review

This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized this presentation. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.

This first slide shows the growth in NASPGHAN membership:

Year in Review

Melvin Heyman  Editor, JPGN

This lecture reviewed a number of influential studies that have been published in the past year.  After brief review of the study, Dr. Heyman summarized the key take-home point.


CCFA Conference Notes 2016 (part 4) –Pregnancy and IBD

Pregnancy and IBD –Dr. Doug Wolf

Dr. Wolf reviewed infertility, pregnancy issues, and PIANO registry. This topic has been covered elsewhere in this blog (IBD and Pregnancy | gutsandgrowth). Vedolizumab is a FDA category B; thus far, it is considered fairly safe. Thiopurines are category D but overall thought to be low risk.

This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized this terrific presentation. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.

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Biosimilars -Position Statement

Briefly noted:

“Use of Biosimilars in Paediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease” Position Statement. JPGN 2015; 61: 503-08.  Conclusions:

  • “IBD Porto group advocates giving high priority to performing paediatric trials with long-term followup to support” the use of biosimilars (97% agreement)
  • “Treatment of a child with sustained remission on a specific medication should not be switched to a biosimilar until clinical trials in IBD are available to support the safety and efficacy of such a change” (94% agreement)
  • “Postmarketing surveillance…in children with IBD should be a mandatory requirement.” (100% agreement)

My take: Keep this reference handy.  The lower expected costs (>30% reduction) could create pressure to change treatment before the safety/efficacy is proven.

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

IBD Incidence Increasing: 30 Years of Data from Manitoba

A recent study (JPGN 2014; 59: 763-66) shows a steady trend of increased incidence of IBD in Manitoba. This figure is available online:


Increasing IBD Incidence in Children

Increasing IBD Incidence in Children from JPGNonline


Objectives: The aim of this study was to describe the incidence and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in children <17 years of age in 30 years from 1978 to 2007.

Methods: From January 1, 1978, to December 31, 2007, the sex- and age-adjusted annual incidence and prevalence of pediatric IBD per 100,000 population were calculated based on the pediatric IBD database of the only pediatric tertiary center in the province. The annual health statistics records for the Province of Manitoba were used to calculate population estimates for the participants. To ensure validity of data, the University of Manitoba IBD Epidemiology Database was analyzed for patients <17 years of age from 1989 to 2000.

Results: The sex- and age-adjusted incidence of pediatric Crohn disease has increased from 1.2/100,000 in 1978 to 4.68/100,000 in 2007 (P < 0.001). For ulcerative colitis, the incidence has increased from 0.47/100,000 in 1978 to 1.64/100,000 in 2007 (P < 0.001). During the same time period, the prevalence of Crohn disease has increased from 3.1 to 18.9/100,000 (P < 0.001) and from 0.7 to 12.7/100,000 for ulcerative colitis (P < 0.001). During the last 5 years of the study the average annual incidence of IBD in urban patients was 8.69/100,000 as compared with 4.75/100,000 for rural patients (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The incidence and prevalence of pediatric IBD are increasing. The majority of patients were residents of urban Manitoba, confirming the important role of environmental factors in the etiopathogenesis of IBD.

Unrelated: As a bonus for those who made it to the bottom of this post : there’s a new Bristol Stool App for iPhones.  Here’s the link: (from John Pohl’s twitter feed)