Clinical implications of mucosal healing for the management of IBD

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2010 Jan;7(1):15-29. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2009.203. Epub 2009 Dec 1.


Mucosal healing (MH) has emerged as an important treatment goal for patients with IBD. Historically, the therapeutic goals of induction and maintenance of clinical remission seemed insufficient to change the natural history of IBD. Evidence has now accumulated to show that MH can alter the course of IBD, as it is associated with sustained clinical remission, and reduced rates of hospitalization and surgical resection. In patients with ulcerative colitis, MH may represent the ultimate therapeutic goal because inflammation is limited to the mucosa. In patients with Crohn's disease, which is a transmural disease, MH could be considered as a minimum therapeutic goal. This Review focuses on the definition of MH and discusses the ability of each available IBD medication to induce and maintain MH. The importance of achieving MH is also discussed and literature that demonstrates improvement of disease course with MH is reviewed. Finally, we discuss how best to integrate the treatment end point of MH into clinical practice for the management of patients with IBD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Immunosuppressive Agents