Comorbidities rather than age are associated with the use of immunomodulators in elderly-onset inflammatory bowel disease

Viraj C. Kariyawasam*, Shin Kim, Fadi H. Mourad, Christian P. Selinger, Peter H. Katelaris, D. Brian Jones, Charles McDonald, Gavin Barr, Grace Chapman, James Colliwshaw, Paul C. Lunney, Kate Middleton, Rosy R. Wang, Tony Huang, Jane Andrews, Priyanthi W. Pathirana, Rupert W. Leong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Aim: The use of immunomodulators (IMs) is often avoided in elderly patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) due to concerns about complications. Our aim is to compare the use of IMs in elderly and younger patients with Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) and identify markers that predict their use. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, patients diagnosed with IBD from 1970 to 2009 were recruited from the “Sydney IBD Cohort.” Patients diagnosed at age 60 years old or older and between 16 and old 40 years were classified as “elderly-onset” and “young-onset” respectively. Results: A total of 255 elderly-onset patients (115 CD, 140 UC) and 1244 young-onset patients (657 CD, 587 UC) were recruited. Most elderly-onset patients had colonic CD (61.4%), whereas young-onset patients had predominantly ileocolonic CD (42.8%, P < 0.0001). Left-sided UC was the most common disease localization for both elderly-onset (52.1%) and young-onset patients (42.2%, P = 0.013). The cumulative probability of IM exposure at 5 years post-diagnosis was significantly less in elderly-onset patients compared with young-onset patients for CD (20.0% vs 33.4%, P = 0.0002) and UC (7.8% vs 13.4%, P = 0.0007). Age at diagnosis was not associated with the time to IMs introduction. Charlson Comorbidity Index was shown to delay IM introduction in CD (hazard ratio [HR] 0.863; 95% CI, 0.787-0.946; P = 0.002) and UC (HR 0.807; 95% CI, 0.711-0.917; P = 0.001). Early IM use was associated with reduced need for abdominal and perianal surgery in CD (HR 0.177; 95% CI, 0.089-0.351; P < 0.0001). Conclusions: Comorbidity and not age at diagnosis is associated with IM introduction. Early IM is associated with reduced surgery in both young- and elderly-onset CD but not UC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1390-1398
Number of pages9
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Aging
  • Elderly
  • Geriatric
  • Immunomodulators
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Surgery


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