Use of the tumor necrosis factor-blockers for Crohn's disease

World J Gastroenterol. 2012 Sep 21;18(35):4823-54. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v18.i35.4823.


The use of anti-tumor necrosis factor-α therapy for inflammatory bowel disease represents the most important advance in the care of these patients since the publication of the National Co-operative Crohn's disease study thirty years ago. The recommendations of numerous consensus groups worldwide are now supported by a wealth of clinical trials and several meta-analyses. In general, it is suggested that tumor necrosis factor-α blockers (TNFBs) are indicated (1) for persons with moderately-severe Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis (UC) who have failed two or more causes of glucocorticosteroids and an acceptably long cause (8 wk to 12 wk) of an immune modulator such as azathioprine or methotrexate; (2) non-responsive perianal disease; and (3) severe UC not responding to a 3-d to 5-d course of steroids. Once TNFBs have been introduced and the patient is responsive, therapy given by the IV and SC rate must be continued. It remains open to definitive evidence if concomitant immune modulators are required with TNFB maintenance therapy, and when or if TNFB may be weaned and discontinued. The supportive evidence from a single study on the role of early versus later introduction of TNFB in the course of a patient's illness needs to be confirmed. The risk/benefit profile of TNFB appears to be acceptable as long as the patient is immunized and tested for tuberculosis and viral hepatitis before the initiation of TNFB, and as long as the long-term adverse effects on the development of lymphoma and other tumors do not prone to be problematic. Because the rates of benefits to TNFB are modest from a population perspective and the cost of therapy is very high, the ultimate application of use of TNFBs will likely be established by cost/benefit studies.

Keywords: Adalimumab; Adverse effects; Certolizumab pegol; Crohn's disease; Economic evaluation; Infliximab; Secondary lack of response; Ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Crohn Disease / diagnosis
  • Crohn Disease / drug therapy*
  • Crohn Disease / economics
  • Crohn Disease / immunology
  • Drug Costs
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / economics
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Patient Selection
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Remission Induction
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Failure
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha