A recent retrospective single-center study (Papmichael K et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2015; 13: 1103-10) of 100 patients with Crohn’s disease examined what happens to patients who discontinued infliximab therapy upon clinical remission. The study used a medical database in Belgium. The authors defined sustained clinical remission (SCR) as “maintenance of disease remission, without escalation in medical therapy or CD-related surgeries, until the end of the follow-up period, which was a median period of approximately 10 years.” 84 patients continued on immunomodulator therapy.
- 52 (52%) had SCR.
- Complete mucosal healing, lower infliximab trough concentrations, and serum positivity for vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 were factors associated with SCR.
Limitations: SCR was based on physician global assessment which may underestimate relapse rates and endoscopic data at the time of infliximab discontinuation was available in only a small subgroup.
Bottomline: In this small study, half of the patients did well clinically for a long time after stopping infliximab (most remained on immunomodulator therapy). However, given the insidious nature of Crohn’s disease, careful monitoring before and after stopping infliximab is worthwhile. In addition, other studies have demonstrated higher relapse rates.
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