The use of biologic agents in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Oct;24(5):609-14. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e3283574154.


Purpose of review: Therapeutic options and approaches in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) continue to evolve. This review will summarize the recent studies of treatment strategies, efficacy, safety and outcome of biological agents in the treatment of children with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Recent findings: Although there has been little recent change in the number of biologicals easily available for the treatment of children, usage has broadened in pediatric IBD and new treatment strategies have emerged. The use of biologicals in refractory pediatric ulcerative colitis is now accepted, with evidence supporting their potential for maintenance therapy. In pediatric Crohn's disease, scheduled treatment regimens have shown superiority to episodic treatment. Although the 'top-down' approach with early use of biologicals produces superior remission rates in adults, there is still little evidence in children. Concomitant immunosuppression appears to reduce immunogenicity and improve therapeutic control, but there are added risks for infection and malignancy.

Summary: Biologicals now form an integral part of the treatment algorithm in childhood IBD and their use is likely to increase. Treatment regimens, particularly those involving concomitant immunosuppressants, need to take account of the perceptions of risk.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adalimumab
  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / drug therapy*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / physiopathology
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / immunology
  • Crohn Disease / physiopathology
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infliximab
  • Male
  • Natalizumab
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Biological Products
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Natalizumab
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Infliximab
  • Adalimumab

Supplementary concepts

  • Pediatric Crohn's disease
  • Pediatric ulcerative colitis