Background & aims: It is important to determine whether infliximab therapy can be safely interrupted in patients with Crohn's disease who have undergone a period of prolonged remission. We assessed the risk of relapse after infliximab therapy was discontinued in patients on combined maintenance therapy with antimetabolites and identified factors associated with relapse.
Methods: We performed a prospective study of 115 patients with Crohn's disease who were treated for at least 1 year with scheduled infliximab and an antimetabolite and had been in corticosteroid-free remission for at least 6 months. Infliximab was stopped, and patients were followed up for at least 1 year. We associated demographic, clinical, and biologic factors with time to relapse using a Cox model.
Results: After a median follow-up period of 28 months, 52 of the 115 patients experienced a relapse; the 1-year relapse rate was 43.9% ± 5.0%. Based on multivariable analysis, risk factors for relapse included male sex, the absence of surgical resection, leukocyte counts >6.0 × 10(9)/L, and levels of hemoglobin ≤145 g/L, C-reactive protein ≥5.0 mg/L, and fecal calprotectin ≥300 μg/g. Patients with no more than 2 of these risk factors (approximately 29% of the study population) had a 15% risk of relapse within 1 year. Re-treatment with infliximab was effective and well tolerated in 88% of patients who experienced a relapse.
Conclusions: Approximately 50% of patients with Crohn's disease who were treated for at least 1 year with infliximab and an antimetabolite agent experienced a relapse within 1 year after discontinuation of infliximab. However, patients with a low risk of relapse can be identified using a combination of clinical and biologic markers.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00571337.
Copyright © 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.