Tofacitinib -Where Does it Fit in Treatment Algorithm for Ulcerative Colitis?

A few recent articles provide a lot of practical information regarding implementation of tofacitinib into treatment regimens for ulcerative colitis (UC).

  • S Danese et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2106–12. Review article on Tofacitinib.
  • J-F Colombel.  Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2173–80. Review article on Herpes Zoster due to JAK Inhibitors (eg Tofacitinib).
  • KL Winthrop et al.  Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24:  2258-65. Clinical study detailing the risk of Herpes Zoster in patients with UC receiving Tofacitinib.

The first of these articles reviews the mechanism of action of tofacitinib (TFB) and the relevant studies showing efficacy for UC.  A summary of the results are listed in Table 1. Some of the reported results –with TFB dosed at 10 mg BID:

  • In 2012, Sandborn et al: clinical response in 61% at wk 8 and clinical remission of 48% at wk 8.
  • In 2017 (OCTAVE Induction 1): clinical response in 18.5% at wk 8 and clinical remission of 31.3% at wk 8.
  • In 2017 (OCTAVE Induction 2): clinical response in 16.6% at wk 8 and clinical remission of 28.4% at wk 8.
  • In 2017 (OCTAVE Sustain):clinical response in 40.6% at wk 8 and clinical remission of 45.7% at wk 8.
  • In all of these studies, TFB outperformed the placebo arm and has had a good safety profile

Most common adverse effects had similar rates in the placebo arm:

  • Nasopharyngitis
  • Arthralgia
  • Headache

Other adverse effects have included pneumonia, herpes zoster (HZ) infection, and increased lipid levels (more common than with placebo group).  Trials in patients with rheumatoid arthritis have indicated an increased incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer, lymphoma, breast cancer, lung cancer, and gastric cancers.

Preclinical studies have shown that TFB could cause fetal malformations when given at much higher doses.  Though, clinical experience in humans have not found teratogenic effects; this is based on one study with 9815 RA/psoriasis patients and 47 women who became pregnant.

Role for tofacitinib:

  • “Tofacitinib could be used in patients suffering mild, moderate and severe UC…after aminosalicylates (5-ASA)…and as second-line therapy in patients who have been treated with TNF inhibitors.”

Advantages of tofacitinib:

  • Oral administration with rapid absorption
  • Short serum half-life
  • Good experience in large number of patients with rheumatoid arthritis
  • No immunogenicity.
  • Effective in patients who have had previous anti-TNF agents

More on Herpes Zoster Infection:

  • The other two references detail the risk of Herpes Zoster infections with TFB usage.
  • Winthrop et al identified 65 (5.6%) of patients developed HZ among phase II/III open-label, long-term extension trials.
  • The review by Colombel notes that patients with UC have “an increased risk of HZ compared with the general population, and this risk can be increase by the use of immunosuppressive therapy.  JAK inhibitors, including tofacitinib, have been associated with HZ risk…The majority of HZ casees are noncomplicated.”
  • In this review, Colombel details an algorithm for treatment of HZ cases and indicates that adults receiving TFB should consider vaccination to lower the risk of HZ.

My take: A significant portion of patients with UC either do not respond to anit-TNF agents or lose response.  Tofacitinib provides an alternative treatment with a different mechanism of action.  Given the few other non-surgical treatment options, I expect it will be rapidly incorporated into treatment algorithms.

Related blog posts:


IBD Shorts October 2018

C Ma et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepaatol 2018; 16: 1407-19.  This study examined endpoints in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of Crohn’s disease.  Key finding: Among 116 included RCTs (n=27,263 patients), there were 38 unique definitions of clinical response or remission and 32 definitions of loss of response. The most common endpoint was CD activity index.

RP Hirten et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 1374-84. This review examines the topic of combining biologics in inflammatory bowel disease. Currently, there is little data in IBD.  From studies completed in rheumatology and dermatology, there are some safety concerns. One current study, the EXPLORER study, which is a phase 4 open label trial evaluating the use of vedolizumab in combination with adalimumab and methotrexate, will provide some useful information.  With regard to safety, gut-specific anti-integrin therapies are likely to be safer in combination than other biologic therapies.

RJ Colman et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2135-41.  This systematic review and meta-analysis which included 14 eligible studies showed that the pooled clinical remission rate with methotrexate monotherapy for pediatric Crohn’s disease was 57.7% at 3-6 months and 37.1% at 1 year.

AA Wren et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2093-2105. This study with 93,668 patients in a cohort from Truven MarketScan Database (2007-2015) identified a high rate of opioid therapy usage in U.S. adolescents and young adults (15-29 year olds).  Annual prevalence of chronic opioid use was 9.3% in 2007 and peaked at 12.2% in 2011. In 2015, the prevalence dropped to 10.8%.  Overall, 18.2% had received chronic opioid therapy.  Among the 2503 with chronic opioid usage who were followed longitudinally, 30.5% received opioids for 2 years and 5.3% for 4 years. The associated editorial (ME Kuenzig, EI Benchimol, pg 2140-5) note that these prevalence data may underestimate the true rate of opioid use due to the case definition of IBD used when analyzing the administrative data.

Lake Moraine, Banff

Do Biologics Alter the Natural History of Crohn’s Disease in Children?

An important recent study (B Kerur et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 1467-73 & editorial C Ballengee S Kugasthasan 1398-1400) examined the impact of biologic therapies on Crohn’s disease progression and need for surgery in 1442 children (age, ≤16 y) between 2002-14. This study examined data from the Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease Collaborative Research Group registry.

Key findings:

  • Early use of biologics (n=145) was associated with slowing of disease progression (hazard ratio 0.85, CI 0.76-0.95).  Those who received anti-TNF therapy within three months of diagnosis were less likely to develop stricturing (B2) or penetrating (B3) disease.
  • Early anti-TNF therapy did not effect progression to surgery. Surgery rates were 4% at 1 year, 13% at 5 years, and 26% at 10 years.
  • Of those who needed surgery, ~15% already had their first bowel-related surgery in the first 90 days after diagnosis.
  • The study cohort at diagnosis included only 51 with B2 disease, 27 with B3, and 11 with both B2 & B3.  Thus, these three disease phenotypes represented ~6% of the entire cohort.

In the editorial, the authors state that this study “is a sobering reminder that we apparently have not changed the long-term course of CD for our pediatric patients.”  Though, at the same time, they explain how this study had some limitations which could have affected some of the conclusions.

  • In contrast to the RISK study, this study classified patients as B1 who progressed to B2 or B3 in the first 3 months of diagnosis.  Including these patients decreased the chance to show improvement with early biologic therapy.
  • Also, this cohort included a lower percentage of African American patients compared to the RISK study (8% vs 13%).  This also lowered the likelihood of identifying improvement;  these patients are more likely to develop penetrating disease which can be prevented with early biologic therapy (RISK study: Kugasthasan S et al. Lancet 2017; 389: 1710-8).

Also, one other finding of the study was that there was a paradoxical increase in the risk of surgery in the first 5 years in the early biologic group. “This suggests that our practicing pediatric gastroenterologists may have selected the sicker patients to start biologics.”

My take: I think biologics do influence the natural history of Crohn’s disease in children.  However, this study suggests that the magnitude of that alteration is suboptimal.

Related blog post: CCFA update 2017 -RISK study presentation

Vedolizumab and Extraintestinal Manifestations of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent retrospective study( MC Dubinsky et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 1876-82) indicates that vedolizumab (VDZ) is likely to less effective than anti-TNF agents for extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

The authors used the MarketScan database (2102-2016).  For Crohn’s disease (CD) this included 756 treated with VDZ and 19584 treated with anti-TNF.  For ulcerative colitis (UC), this included 544 treated with VDZ and 8574 treated with anti-TNF.

Key findings:

  • Compared to patients receiving anti-TNF therapy, VDZ-treated CD patients were 28% more likely to develop “any EIMs” with an adjusted rate ratio of 1.49.  The adjusted rate ratio of developing specific EIMs: erythema nodosum  4.29, aphthous stomatitis 3.71, episcleritis/scleritis 2.51, arthropathy 1.45, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) 7.79, and uveitis/iritis 2.89.
  • VDZ-treated UC patients did not have a statistically-significant increase in general for EIMs; though when looked at individually, there was increased incident rate ratios for some: apthous stomatitis 3.67, pyoderma gangrenosum 4.42, and PSC 3.44.

The authors findings are counter to their hypothesis that VDZ-treated patients would not have a significantly higher incidence of EIMs and that the EIMs would parallel course with IBD. To explain their findings, the authors note the following:

  • “EIMs may be more associated with systemic inflammation than previously thought.”
  • “Alternatively, the correlation between specific EIMs and underlying intestinal disease activity may be less tight than previously described.”
  • Anti-TNFs may control intestinal inflammation better than VDZ
  • VDZ-treated patients may have had more severe disease

While EIMs are more likely to develop on VDZ therapy, this study and prior RCTs do not show whether VDZ is effective in resolving EIMs.

My take: This retrospective study indicates that EIMs, including PSC, are more likely to occur in patients receiving vedolizumab. It is unclear whether this is related to the gut-specific control of inflammation with VDZ or whether there are patient characteristics responsible for this observation.

Related blog posts:

Sunshine Meadows, Banff

IBD Shorts -September 2018

S Sridhar et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2086-92.  This retrospective pediatric study with 409 patients examined dermatologic manifestations on anti-TNF therapy.  47 (11.4%) had dermatologic findings recorded including 33 with psoriasis, 28 with infections, and 10 with eczema (some had multiple skin findings). The majority were able to continue with current anti-TNF regmimen, including 60% of those with psoriasis.

Related blog posts:

NA Rozette et al. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2007-14. This study with 50 subjects showed good safety of rapid versus standard infliximab infusions. One interesting aspect of their study which included a retrospective arm (standard infusion) and a prospective arm (rapid infusion) was a declining use of premedication, though even in their prospective group 60% received premedication including the combination of acetaminophen, benadryl, and methylprednisolone in 30%.  There were two patients in the rapid infusion with mild reactions who reverted to standard infusion rates.

CJ Moran, JL Kaplan, HS Winter. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2018; 24: 2048-52. This study with 199 subjects with active Crohn’s disease (CD) (21-86 years) –had their BioBank blood tested for 5 common CRP genetic variants.  Some specific variants,  rs2794520TT & rs1800947, were associated with lower CRP levels. This study helps explain why CRP is not a useful marker in some patients with CD.

Sunshine Meadows, Banff

Anemia in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent retrospective study (G Aljomah et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 351-5) provides some useful information about anemia in the pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) population. This study included 153 patients, though the diagnostic tests varied considerably; for example, only 42 patients had a serum transferrin receptor (sTR) assay available at followup.

Key points:

  • 67.3% of patients had anemia at diagnosis.  38.5% had anemia of chronic disease (ACD) and the remainder had either iron deficiency anemia (IDA) or IDA in combination with ACD.
  • 20.5% had anemia at followup approximately 1 year after diagnosis. 5.1% with ACD alone and 15.4% had IDA or IDA in combination with ACD.
  • In a subset of patients with more complete data, it was shown that anemia was much more common in patients with Crohn’s disease: 91.2% at diagnosis and 27.3% at followup compared with patients with ulcerative colitis with 40.0% at diagnosis and 7.7% at followup.

The authors used the sTR index (sTR/log ferritin index) to determine if ACD was present.  “This index can differentiate IDA from ACD; however, it cannot separate IDA from the combination of IDA/ACD.  IDA or IDA/ACD were considered to be present if the sTR index was greater than 1.03. An sTR index of <1.03 was taken to be indicative of the presence of ACD.”

Briefly noted: MR Serpico et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 341-5.  This retrospective study  examined the use of allopurinol to optimize thiopurine levels.  32 of 52 patients remained on the combination for 1 year.  In this group, median alanine transaminase decreased to 19 from 77 (P<0.001) and median 6-TG levels increased to 322 from 166 (P<0.001). In addition, steroid-free remission rates improved to 82% (23 of 28).  About 40% of the initial cohort of 52 patients were switched to antitumor necrosis factor therapy.

My take: The initial study shows that anemia is frequent in pediatric IBD, especially at diagnosis (67%).  Even at followup, 20% of patients had ongoing anemia.

Related blog posts:

Exclusive Enteral Nutrition for Crohn’s Disease -Less Effective in Those with Isolated Colonic Disease

A recent study (Y Xu. Clinical Nutrition 2018; showed that exclusive enteral nutrition (EEN) is less effective in patient’s with Crohn’s disease with isolated colonic disease.

Abstract Link: Isolated Colonic Crohn’s Disease is Associated with a Reduced Response to Exclusive Enteral Nutrition Compared to Ileal or Ileocolonic Disease

This was a retrospective study of 241 adults: 52 patients in the cCD (isolated colonic disease) group and 189 patients in the non-cCD group.

Key findings:

  • “The rates of clinical remission differed between the two groups (cCD group: 51.9% versus non-cCD group: 68.3%, P = 0.029). Multivariate analyses indicated that isolated colonic involvement was associated with a reduced response to EEN (OR = 2.74; [CI] 95% = [1.2 –6.23], P = 0.016).”
  • “Further analysis showed that even in patients who achieved clinical remission after EEN, inflammatory serum markers declined more slowly in the cCD group than in the non-cCD group, and the time to remission was longer in the cCD group.”

Related blog posts: