Enteral nutrition for maintaining remission in patients with quiescent Crohn's disease: current status and future perspectives

Int J Colorectal Dis. 2016 Jan;31(1):1-7. doi: 10.1007/s00384-015-2348-x. Epub 2015 Aug 15.


Purpose: The value of enteral nutrition (EN) as maintenance therapy in patients with quiescent Crohn's disease (CD) has not been fully evaluated. The purpose of this study was to review the efficacy of EN for the maintenance of remission in patients with quiescent CD.

Methods: Seven prospective cohort studies evaluating the efficacy of EN for the maintenance of remission in quiescent CD were included. Three of the seven studies were randomized-controlled trials (RCTs). In all studies, patients used EN as a supplement or as a nocturnal tube feeding in addition to their normal food.

Results: One study compared the efficacy of elemental diet and polymeric diet. Elemental and polymeric diets were equally effective for the maintenance of clinical remission and for allowing tapering and cessation of steroid therapy. The other six studies compared the outcomes between patients treated with and without EN. The maintained clinical remission rate at 1 year was significantly higher in patients treated with EN in four of the six studies. Quantitative pooling of the studies was not feasible due to a small number of RCTs and a narrative account of the study characteristics.

Conclusions: Our review suggests that EN is useful for the maintenance of remission in patients with quiescent CD. However, there are several limitations in the reviewed studies. There are few RCTs. Further, the sample size is small, and the duration of intervention and follow-up is short. Large and well-designed RCTs should be conducted to rigorously evaluate the efficacy of EN for maintaining remission.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; Elemental diet; Enteral nutrition; Maintenance therapy; Remission.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crohn Disease / therapy*
  • Enteral Nutrition / trends*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Remission Induction*
  • Treatment Outcome