De-escalation of biologic therapy is a commonly encountered clinical scenario. Although biologic discontinuation has been associated with high rates of relapse, the effectiveness of dose de-escalation is unclear. This review was performed to determine the effectiveness of dose de-escalation of biologic therapy in inflammatory bowel disease.
We searched EMBASE, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials from inception to October 2019. Randomized controlled trials and observational studies involving dose de-escalation of biologic therapy in adults with inflammatory bowel disease in remission were included. Studies involving biologic discontinuation only and those lacking outcomes after dose de-escalation were excluded. Risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.
We identified 1,537 unique citations with 20 eligible studies after full-text review. A total of 995 patients were included from 18 observational studies (4 prospective and 14 retrospective), 1 nonrandomized controlled trial, and 1 subgroup analysis of a randomized controlled trial. Seven studies included patients with Crohn's disease, 1 included patients with ulcerative colitis, and 12 included both. Overall, clinical relapse occurred in 0%–54% of patients who dose de-escalated biologic therapy (17 studies). The 1-year rate of clinical relapse ranged from 7% to 50% (6 studies). Eighteen studies were considered at high risk of bias, mostly because of the lack of a control group.
Dose de-escalation seems to be associated with high rates of clinical relapse; however, the quality of the evidence was very low. Additional controlled prospective studies are needed to clarify the effectiveness of biologic de-escalation and identify predictors of success.