Optimizing Biologic Treatment in IBD: Objective Measures, but When, How and How Often?

Shomron Ben-Horin; Ren Mao; Minhu Chen


BMC Gastroenterol. 2015;15(178) 

In This Article


Background: The advent of biologic agents for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) was accompanied in parallel with emerging understanding of persisting underlying inflammation and ensuing bowel damage that can occur even in patients with seeming clinical remission. This lead to the concepts of mucosal healing and deep remission gaining acceptance as the more desired goals for therapy within an ambitious disease-control therapeutic approach, namely, treat-to-target strategy. However, how to practically monitor IBD patients, which objective measures to follow, at what time-points and whether to act upon results in asymptomatic patients are all questions that remain disputed.

Methods and result: In this concise review we aim to provide an overview of objective measures for monitoring of IBD patients, focusing on the challenging group of patients treated by infliximab, adalimumab, vedolizumab and other biologics. These objective measures are discussed in the context of the different common clinical scenarios wherein the clinician may contemplate their use. Specifically, we will delineate the role of objective parameters to be monitored during induction phase of treatment, during maintenance therapy, at loss of response and after elective cessation of therapy in patients in remission.

Conclusion: Coupled with the non-negligible costs of therapy, and the over-all worse prognosis of moderate-severe patients who are the usual recipients of biologic therapies, this challenging patients seem to be the first candidates for this more proactive strategy combining inflammatory and pharmacokinetic monitoring of objective inflammatory and pharmacokinetic measures. More data is still desirable to better define the exact parameters to be followed and their optimal thresholds, and to delineate the optimal cost-effective interventions for these patients.