Rapidly achieving clinical remission in ulcerative colitis indicates better endoscopic and histological outcomes

United European Gastroenterol J. 2023 Dec 30. doi: 10.1002/ueg2.12515. Online ahead of print.


Background: Clinical remission (CR) is the principal short-term treatment target in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC). However, whether rapidly achieving CR indicates better outcomes remains unclear.

Objectives: We aimed to explore the associations between the timing of CR and therapeutic outcomes in UC.

Methods: This study included UC patients from the UNIFI trial. Week-2 CR and time to CR were the major variables of interest. Endoscopic remission (ER) at week 52 was the primary outcome. Multivariate logistic regression was performed to evaluate the association between variables and outcomes.

Results: Week-2 CR was associated with ER (aOR: 2.37 [95% CI: 1.28, 4.37], p = 0.006) and Histological remission (HR) (aOR: 2.87 [95% CI: 1.42, 5.72], p = 0.003) at week 52. Moreover, C-reactive protein (CRP) remission could further stratify patients without CR and predict week-52 outcomes. Patients with clinical activity + CRP remission (aOR: 0.49 [95% CI: 0.26, 0.93], p = 0.039) and clinical activity + CRP activity (aOR: 0.24 [95% CI: 0.11, 0.52], p < 0.001) had gradually decreased likelihood of achieving ER, when compared to those with CR. For time to CR, we found that the earlier to CR, the better endoscopic and histological outcomes patients would attain. Patients achieving CR at weeks 2, 4/8, 12/16 and >16 had gradually reduced proportions of ER (51.9% vs. 40.8% vs. 31.6% vs. 8.8%, p < 0.001) and HR (37.0% vs. 19.8% vs. 17.1% vs. 6.1%, p < 0.001) at week 52. Compared with week 2, achieving CR at weeks 4/8, 12/16 and >16 had 39%, 55% and 92% lower likelihoods of week-52 ER, respectively.

Conclusions: Week-2 CR indicates better outcomes in UC patients receiving ustekinumab. Moreover, achieving CR more rapidly is associated with higher probability of ER and HR.

Keywords: UNIFI; clinical remission; disease clearance; endoscopic remission; histological remission; mucosal healing; prognostic factors; ulcerative colitis.