Ustekinumab (UNITI trial – Crohn)

  Crohn, IBD

Ustekinumab in Crohn

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Ustekinumab, a monoclonal antibody to the p40 subunit of interleukin-12 and interleukin-23, was evaluated as an intravenous induction therapy in two populations with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease. Ustekinumab was also evaluated as subcutaneous maintenance therapy.


We randomly assigned patients to receive a single intravenous dose of ustekinumab (either 130 mg or approximately 6 mg per kilogram of body weight) or placebo in two induction trials. The UNITI-1 trial included 741 patients who met the criteria for primary or secondary nonresponse to tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists or had unacceptable side effects. The UNITI-2 trial included 628 patients in whom conventional therapy failed or unacceptable side effects occurred. Patients who completed these induction trials then participated in IM-UNITI, in which the 397 patients who had a response to ustekinumab were randomly assigned to receive subcutaneous maintenance injections of 90 mg of ustekinumab (either every 8 weeks or every 12 weeks) or placebo. The primary end point for the induction trials was a clinical response at week 6 (defined as a decrease from baseline in the Crohn’s Disease Activity Index [CDAI] score of ≥100 points or a CDAI score <150). The primary end point for the maintenance trial was remission at week 44 (CDAI score <150).


The rates of response at week 6 among patients receiving intravenous ustekinumab at a dose of either 130 mg or approximately 6 mg per kilogram were significantly higher than the rates among patients receiving placebo (in UNITI-1, 34.3%, 33.7%, and 21.5%, respectively, with P≤0.003 for both comparisons with placebo; in UNITI-2, 51.7%, 55.5%, and 28.7%, respectively, with P<0.001 for both doses). In the groups receiving maintenance doses of ustekinumab every 8 weeks or every 12 weeks, 53.1% and 48.8%, respectively, were in remission at week 44, as compared with 35.9% of those receiving placebo (P=0.005 and P=0.04, respectively). Within each trial, adverse-event rates were similar among treatment groups.


Among patients with moderately to severely active Crohn’s disease, those receiving intravenous ustekinumab had a significantly higher rate of response than did those receiving placebo. Subcutaneous ustekinumab maintained remission in patients who had a clinical response to induction therapy. (Funded by Janssen Research and Development; numbers, NCT01369329. opens in new tabNCT01369342. opens in new tab, and NCT01369355. opens in new tab.)

UNITI trial


Feagan, B. G., Sandborn, W. J., Gasink, C., Jacobstein, D., Lang, Y., Friedman, J. R., … Rutgeerts, P. (2016). Ustekinumab as Inductionand Maintenance Therapy for Crohn’s Disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 375(20), 1946–1960. doi:10.1056/nejmoa1602773.

Wils P, Bouhnik Y, Michetti P, et al. Subcutaneous ustekinumab provides clinical benefit for two-thirds of patients with Crohn’s disease refractory to anti-tumor necrosis factor agents. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016;14:242–50.

Khorrami S, Ginard D, Marin-Jimenez I, et al. Ustekinumab for the Treatment of Refractory Crohn’s Disease: The Spanish Experience in a Large Multicentre Openlabel Cohort. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2016;22:1662–9.

Kopylov U, Afif W, Cohen A, et al. Subcutaneous ustekinumab for the treatment of anti-TNF resistant Crohn’s disease-the McGill experience. J Crohns Colitis 2014;8:1516–22.