Assessment of histologic disease activity in Crohn's disease: a systematic review

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2014 Nov;20(11):2092-103. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000155.


Background: Crohn's disease (CD) is an idiopathic, chronic, transmural inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. Because mucosal involvement is near-universal, endoscopic healing has emerged as an important aspect in improving outcome. However, resolution of histologic disease activity has potential to convey additional benefit beyond that attained with endoscopic healing alone. Validated scoring systems of histologic disease activity are required to further assess this possibility. The aim of this study was to systematically review the existing histologic disease activity indices (HDAI) for CD and to assess their operating properties and potential use as outcome measures in clinical trials.

Methods: MEDLINE (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), PubMed, the Cochrane Library (CENTRAL), and Digestive Disease Week (DDW) abstracts were searched from 1981 to April 2013 for applicable studies to identify relevant studies for review and analysis.

Results: In total, 3732 citations were screened to obtain 89 articles for inclusion. Sixty-six HDAIs were characterized as either stepwise or numerical instruments. These HDAIs were used for either assessment of response to medical therapy or for comparison with biomarkers or imaging tests. None of the HDAIs identified was developed according to currently accepted methods for developing evaluative instruments, and none have been formally validated.

Conclusions: Measurement of histologic disease activity has potential value in CD; however, no validated measures are available. Additional research is needed to develop a methodologically rigorous instrument for use in clinical investigation and potentially for clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Crohn Disease / pathology*
  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Prognosis
  • Severity of Illness Index*