Treatment of severe acute ulcerative colitis in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients: report of three cases and discussion of treatment options

Arno R Bourgonje*, Reinier C A van Linschoten, Rachel L West, Maarten A van Dijk, Coretta C van Leer-Buter, Gursah Kats-Ugurlu, Marieke J Pierik, Eleonora A M Festen, Rinse K Weersma, Gerard Dijkstra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it is unclear how asymptomatic severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2)-infected patients who present with acute severe ulcerative colitis (UC) can be treated effectively and safely. Standard treatment regimens consist of steroids, immunomodulatory drugs, and biological therapies, but therapeutic decision-making becomes challenging as there are uncertainties about how to deal with these drugs in patients with COVID-19 and active UC. Importantly, guidelines for this particular group of patients with UC are still lacking. To inform therapeutic decision-making, we describe three consecutive cases of patients with active UC and COVID-19 and discuss their treatments based on theoretical knowledge, currently available evidence and clinical observations. Three patients were identified through our national inflammatory bowel disease network [Initiative on Crohn's and Colitis (ICC)] for whom diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2-infection was established by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing in nasopharynx, stools, and/or biopsies. Acute severe UC was diagnosed by clinical parameters, endoscopy, and histopathology. Clinical guidelines for SARS-CoV-2-negative patients advocate the use of steroids, calcineurin inhibitors, or tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α)-antagonists as induction therapy, and experiences from the current three cases show that steroids and TNF-α-antagonists could also be used in patients with COVID-19. This could potentially be followed by TNF-α-antagonists, vedolizumab, or ustekinumab as maintenance therapy in these patients. Future research is warranted to investigate if, and which, immunomodulatory drugs should be used for COVID-19 patients that present with active UC. To answer this question, it is of utmost importance that future cases of patients with UC and COVID-19 are documented carefully in international registries, such as the SECURE-IBD registry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
JournalTherapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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