Predictors of Aggressive Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Abstract: Inflammatory bowel disease comprises a group of conditions characterized by idiopathic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. The natural course of disease can range from an indolent course with prolonged periods of remission to aggressive, incapacitating disease. Predicting which patients are more susceptible to developing severe disease is important, especially when choosing therapeutic agents and treatment strategies. This paper reviews current evidence on the main demographic, clinical, endoscopic, histologic, serologic, and genetic markers that predict aggressive inflammatory bowel disease. In ulcerative colitis, we considered disease to be aggressive when patients had a high relapse rate, need for admission and/or surgery, development of colon cancer, or extraintestinal manifestations. We defined aggressive Crohn’s disease as having a high relapse rate, development of penetrating disease, need for repeat surgery, or multiple admissions for flares. In Crohn’s disease, involvement of the upper gastrointestinal tract and ileum, penetrating disease, early age at diagnosis, smoking, extensive ulceration of the mucosa, high titers of serum antibodies, and mutations of the NOD2 gene are markers of aggressive disease. In ulcerative colitis, patients with more extensive involvement of the colon (pancolitis) have more symptomatology and are at higher risk for needing a colectomy and developing colon cancer. Also, plasmocytic infiltration of the colonic mucosa and crypt atrophy predict treatment failure. As with diagnosis, no single method can predict disease aggressiveness. Multiple serologic and genetic tests are being developed to refine the accuracy of prediction. Endoscopic findings can also predict the future course of disease. At present, clinical manifestations are the most useful way to make therapeutic decisions.

Millennium Medical Publishing, Inc