Background: Some of the most important questions relating to the use of biological therapy in inflammatory bowel diseases concern the duration of maintenance therapy.
Aim: To assess the disease course and frequency of relapse of Crohn's disease (CD) following discontinuation of biological therapy, and to determine predictive factors for relapse.
Methods: One hundred twenty-one CD patients who had achieved clinical remission following 1 year of biological therapy and for whom biological therapy was then discontinued participated in this prospective observational study. Eighty-seven CD patients had received infliximab and 34 adalimumab. The definition of relapse was an increase of >100 points in CDAI to at least a CDAI of 150 points.
Results: Biological therapy was restarted within 1 year of treatment cessation in 45% of patients. Logistic regression analysis revealed that previous biological therapy (P = 0.011) and dose intensification during the 1-year course of biological therapy (P = 0.024) were associated with the need for and the time to the restarting of biological therapy. Smoking was observed to have an effect that was not statistically significant (P = 0.053).
Conclusions: Biological therapy was restarted a median of 6 months after discontinuation in almost half of Crohn's disease patients in who had been in clinical remission following 1 year of biological therapy. These results suggest that, in the event of the presence of certain predictive factors, biological therapy should probably be continued for more than 1 year by most patients.
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.