Background: We did a randomised controlled trial to assess the benefit of maintenance infliximab therapy in patients with active Crohn's disease who respond to a single infusion of infliximab.
Methods: 573 patients with a score of at least 220 on the Crohn's disease activity index (CDAI) received a 5 mg/kg intravenous infusion of infliximab at week 0. After assessment of response at week 2, patients were randomly assigned repeat infusions of placebo at weeks 2 and 6 and then every 8 weeks thereafter until week 46 (group I), repeat infusions of 5 mg/kg infliximab at the same timepoints (group II), or 5 mg/kg infliximab at weeks 2 and 6 followed by 10 mg/kg (group III). The prespecified co-primary endpoints were the proportion of patients who responded at week 2 and were in remission (CDAI <150) at week 30 and the time to loss of response up to week 54 in patients who responded. Analyses of the co-primary endpoints were by intention to treat.
Findings: 335 (58%) patients responded to a single infusion of infliximab within 2 weeks. At week 30, 23 of 110 (21%) group I patients were in remission, compared with 44 of 113 (39%) group II (p=0.003) and 50 of 112 (45%) group III (p=0.0002) patients. Thus, patients in groups II and III combined were more likely to sustain clinical remission than patients in group I (odds ratio 2.7, 95% CI 1.6-4.6). Throughout the 54-week trial, the median time to loss of response was 38 weeks (IQR 15 to >54) and more than 54 weeks (21 to >54) for groups II and III, respectively, compared with 19 weeks (10-45) for group I (p=0.002 and p=0.0002, respectively). Infliximab safety was consistent with that seen in other trials of infliximab in Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. In particular, the incidence of serious infections was similar across treatment groups.
Interpretation: Patients with Crohn's disease who respond to an initial dose of infliximab are more likely to be in remission at weeks 30 and 54, to discontinue corticosteroids, and to maintain their response for a longer period of time, if infliximab treatment is maintained every 8 weeks.