Ulcerative Colitis in Adults A Review
Beatriz Gros, MD; Gilaad G. Kaplan, MD, MPH
This review focuses on the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment of UC.
IMPORTANCE Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the colon, with a prevalence exceeding 400 per 100 000 in North America. Individuals with UC have a lower life expectancy and are at increased risk for colectomy and colorectal cancer. OBSERVATIONS UC impairs quality of life secondary to inflammation of the colon causing chronic diarrhea and rectal bleeding. Extraintestinal manifestations, such as primary sclerosing cholangitis, occur in approximately 27% of patients with UC. People with UC require monitoring of symptoms and biomarkers of inflammation (eg, fecal calprotectin), and require colonoscopy at 8 years from diagnosis for surveillance of dysplasia. Risk stratification by disease location (eg, Montreal Classification) and disease activity (eg, Mayo Score) can guide management of UC. First-line therapy for induction and maintenance of remission of mild to moderate UC is 5-aminosalicylic acid. Moderate to severe UC may require oral corticosteroids for induction of remission as a bridge to medications that sustain remission (biologic monoclonal antibodies against tumor necrosis factor [eg, infliximab], α4β7 integrins [vedolizumab], and interleukin [IL] 12 and IL-23 [ustekinumab]) and oral small molecules that inhibit janus kinase (eg, tofacitinib) or modulate sphingosine-1-phosphate (ozanimod). Despite advances in medical therapies, the highest response to these treatments ranges from 30% to 60% in clinical trials. Within 5 years of diagnosis, approximately 20% of patients with UC are hospitalized and approximately 7% undergo colectomy. The risk of colorectal cancer after 20 years of disease duration is 4.5%, and people with UC have a 1.7-fold higher risk for colorectal cancer compared with the general population. Life expectancy in people with UC is approximately 80.5 years for females and 76.7 years for males, which is approximately 5 years shorter than people without UC. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE UC affects approximately 400 of every 100 000 people in North America. An effective treatment for mild to moderate UC is 5-aminosalicylic acid, whereas moderate to severe UC can be treated with advanced therapies that target specific inflammation pathways, including monoclonal antibodies to tumor necrosis factor, α4β7 integrins, and IL-12 and IL-23 cytokines, as well as oral small molecule therapies targeting janus kinase or sphingosine-1-phosphate-