Corticosteroid-Free Remission vs Overall Remission in Clinical Trials of Moderate-Severe Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn's Disease

John George, Siddharth Singh*, Parambir S. Dulai, Christopher Ma, Tran Nguyen, Brian G. Feagan, William J. Sandborn, Vipul Jairath

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: We summarized the protocol-specified corticosteroid tapering regimens in clinical trials of moderate-severe ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) and calculated differences in rates of clinical remission vs corticosteroid-free clinical remission (CSF-CR). Methods: Through a systematic literature review through February 28, 2019, we identified 16 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of biologics or small molecules in patients with moderate-severe UC or CD who reported CSF-CR as an outcome. We estimated the relative risk and 95% confidence interval of achieving CSF-CR vs overall clinical remission in patients treated with active intervention or placebo through random-effects meta-analysis. Results: Across trials of UC (11 trials) and CD (5 trials), a median of 53% and 49% of participants were on corticosteroids at the time of trial entry, respectively. Participants were allowed to enter trials at a median corticosteroid dose (range) of 35 (20-40) mg/d. Doses were kept stable for a median (range) of 8 (5-10) weeks during induction therapy, after which a mandatory and structured taper was implemented, albeit with the investigators' discretion depending on clinical status. Pooled rates of CSF-CR in patients with UC and CD treated with placebo were 9.7% and 19.1%, respectively. In UC and CD trials, the rate of CSF-CR was 24% and 18% lower than the rate of overall clinical remission, respectively. Conclusions: Protocol-specified corticosteroid tapering regimens vary across trials. These findings will help to inform the design and interpretation of future clinical trials and highlight the need for standardization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)515-523
Number of pages9
JournalInflammatory bowel diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 4 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Crohn's disease
  • clinical trials
  • end points
  • maintenance therapy
  • ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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