Early Indolent Course of Crohn's Disease in Newly Diagnosed Patients is Not Rare and Possibly Predictable

Henit Yanai, Idan Goren, Lihi Godny, Nitsan Maharshak, Yulia Ron, Irit Avni Biron, Haim Leibovitzh, Hagar Banai Eran, Maya Aharoni Golan, Keren Rabinowitz, Tomer Ziv Baran, Inbar Lavie, Karin Yadgar, Keren Zonensain, Uri Kopylov, Shomron Ben Horin, Rami Eliakim, Matti Waterman, Yehuda Chowers, Shay Ben-Shachar, Iris Dotan
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2020 July 3

BACKGROUND & AIMS: The early stages of Crohn's disease (CD) course are heterogeneous, and it is a challenge to predict the course of disease in patients with new diagnosis.

METHODS: We performed an observational longitudinal study of 156 adults (79 male; median age, 27.7 years; 57 treatment naïve) with newly diagnosed CD (within 6 months of enrollment), referred from medical centers and community clinics in Israel from 2013 through 2017. Study participants each received semi-annual scheduled evaluations. Indolent disease was defined as a disease course without need for strict interventions to control complicated course of CD (hospitalization or surgery, or decision to start steroid, immunomodulator, or biologic therapy). Cox regression and receiver operating characteristic analyses were used to identify factors associated with early indolent or complicated course of CD. We validated our findings in an independent cohort of patients with CD from a separate medical center in Israel in 2018.

RESULTS: Over a median follow-up period of 17.2 months (interquartile range, 8.8-23.8 months), 52 patients (33.3%) had an indolent course of CD, 29 (18.5%) required hospitalizations, and 75 (48%) were recommended to start steroid, immunomodulator, or biologic therapies. The median time to first intervention was 3.4 months (95% CI, 2.4-4.4). We developed a model based on clinical factors that identified 4 factors associated with complicated course in treatment-naïve patients: body mass index <25 kg/m2 (hazard ratio [HR], 2.45; 95% CI, 1.07-5.43; P=.033), serum level of vitamin B12 <350 pg/mL (HR, 2.78; 95% CI, 1.21-6.41; P=.016), white blood cells ≥7×103 /μL (HR, 2.419; 95% CI, 1.026-5.703; P=.044), and serum level of alanine aminotransferase ≥25 IU/L (HR, 2.680; 95% CI, 1.186-6.058; P=.018). This model discriminated between patients with vs without a complicated course of disease with 90% and 89% accuracy at 6 and 12 months after diagnosis, respectively. A validation cohort demonstrated a discriminatory ability of 79% at 3 months after diagnosis, and a nomogram was constructed.

CONCLUSIONS: In an observational longitudinal study of 156 patients with newly diagnosed CD, we found that one third have an early indolent course of disease. We identified factors that can be measured at diagnosis to identify patients at risk for an early complicated course-these might be used in patient management and selection of treatment.

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