Inflammatory bowel disease in India - Past, present and future

World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Sep 28;22(36):8123-36. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i36.8123.


There is rising incidence and prevalence of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in India topping the Southeast Asian (SEA) countries. The common genes implicated in disease pathogenesis in the West are not causal in Indian patients and the role of "hygiene hypothesis" is unclear. There appears to be a North-South divide with more ulcerative colitis (UC) in north and Crohn's disease (CD) in south India. IBD in second generation Indian migrants to the West takes the early onset and more severe form of the West whereas it retains the nature of its country of origin in migrants to SEA countries. The clinical presentation is much like other SEA countries (similar age and sex profile, low positive family history and effect of smoking, roughly similar disease location, use of aminosalicylates for CD, low use of biologics and similar surgical rates) with some differences (higher incidence of inflammatory CD, lower perianal disease, higher use of aminosalicylates and azathioprine and lower current use of corticosteroids). UC presents more with extensive disease not paralleled in severity clinically or histologically, follows benign course with easy medical control and low incidence of fulminant disease, cancer, complications, and surgery. UC related colorectal cancer develop in an unpredictable manner with respect to disease duration and site questioning the validity of strict screening protocol. About a third of CD patients get antituberculosis drugs and a significant number presents with small intestinal bleed which is predominantly afflicted by aggressive inflammation. Biomarkers have inadequate diagnostic sensitivity and specificity for both. Pediatric IBD tends to be more severe than adult. Population based studies are needed to address the lacunae in epidemiology and definition of etiological factors. Newer biomarkers and advanced diagnostic techniques (in the field of gastrointestinal endoscopy, molecular pathology and genetics) needs to be developed for proper disease definition and treatment.

Keywords: Crohn’s disease; India; Inflammatory bowel disease; Review; Ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aminosalicylic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Antitubercular Agents / therapeutic use
  • Asia, Southeastern
  • Azathioprine / therapeutic use
  • Biological Products / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / epidemiology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / genetics
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / complications
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • India
  • Inflammation
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics


  • Antitubercular Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Biomarkers
  • Aminosalicylic Acid
  • Azathioprine