Histopathological Features in Colonic Biopsies at Diagnosis Predict Long-term Disease Course in Patients with Crohn's Disease

A.R. Ardabili*, D. Goudkade, D. Wintjens, M. Romberg-Camps, B. Winkens, M. Pierik, H.I. Grabsch, D. Jonkers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and Aims: Crohn's disease [CD] is characterised by a heterogeneous disease course. Patient stratification at diagnosis using clinical, serological, or genetic markers does not predict disease course sufficiently to facilitate clinical decision making. The current study aimed to investigate the additive predictive value of histopathological features to discriminate between a long-term mild and severe disease course.Methods: Diagnostic biopsies from treatment-naive CD patients with mild or severe disease courses in the first 10 years after diagnosis were reviewed by two gastrointestinal pathologists after developing a standardised form comprising 15 histopathological features. Multivariable logistic regression models were built to identify predictive features and compute receiver operating characteristic [ROC] curves. Models were internally validated using bootstrapping to obtain optimism-corrected performance estimates.Results: In total, 817 biopsies from 137 patients [64 mild, 73 severe cases] were included. Using clinical baseline characteristics, disease course could only moderately be predicted (area under receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC]: 0.738 [optimism 0.018], 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.65-0.83, sensitivity 83.6%, specificity 53.1%). When adding histopathological features, in colonic biopsies a combination of [1] basal plasmacytosis, [2] severe lymphocyte infiltration in lamina propria, [3] Paneth cell metaplasia, and [4] absence of ulcers were identified and resulted in significantly better prediction of a severe course (AUROC: 0.883 [optimism 0.033], 95% CI 0.82-0.94, sensitivity 80.4%, specificity 84.2%).Conclusions: In this first study investigating the additive predictive value of histopathological features in biopsies at CD diagnosis, we found that certain features of chronic inflammation in colonic biopsies contributed to prediction of a severe disease course, thereby presenting a novel approach to improving stratification and facilitating clinical decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1885-1897
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Crohn's & Colitis
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • Crohn's disease
  • pathology
  • disease course
  • biomarkers
  • 1ST YEAR

Cite this