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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2016 Feb;50(2):152-6. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000000421.

Role of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs in Exacerbations of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

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*Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC †Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Hanover, NH.



To determine the role of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in activation of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).


NSAIDs may activate inflammatory pathways in IBD.


Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of American Partners is an ongoing cohort study of patients living with IBD. All data are self-reported using the internet. We identified a subcohort of participants whose disease activity, based on short Crohn's Disease Activity Index and simple clinical colitis activity index, indicated remission. Pattern of use of NSAIDs was measured at baseline, and disease activity assessment was performed 6 months later. We used multivariate binomial regression to determine effects of NSAIDs on disease activity.


A total of 791 individuals in remission had baseline and follow-up data available for analysis. Of these, 247 Crohn's disease (CD) patients (43.2%) and 89 ulcerative colitis (UC) patients (40.6%) reported NSAID use. CD patients with NSAID use ≥5 times/month had greater risk of active disease at follow-up (23% vs. 15%, P=0.04); [adjusted risk ratio (RR), 1.65; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.12-2.44). No effect was observed in patients with UC (22% vs. 21%, P=0.98; adjusted RR, 1.25; 95% CI, 0.81-1.92). Acetaminophen use was associated with active disease at follow-up in CD (adjusted RR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.11-2.68).


Regular (≥5 times/mo) NSAID and acetaminophen use were associated with active CD, but not UC. Less frequent NSAID use was not associated with active CD or UC. These findings indicate that regular NSAID use may increase CD activity, or that NSAID use may be a marker of a less robust remission; thus reflecting subclinical disease activity.

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