Acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC) is a life-threatening condition managed with intravenous steroids followed by infliximab, cyclosporine, or colectomy (for patients with steroid resistance). There are no biomarkers to identify patients most likely to respond to therapy; ineffective medical treatment can delay colectomy and increase morbidity and mortality. We aimed to identify biomarkers of response to medical therapy for patients with ASUC.


We performed a retrospective analysis of 47 patients with ASUC, well characterized for their responses to steroids, cyclosporine, or infliximab, therapy at 2 centers in France. Fixed colonic biopsies, collected before or within the first 3 days of treatment, were used for microarray analysis of microRNA expression profiles. Deep neural network-based classifiers were used to derive candidate biomarkers for discriminating responders from non-responders to each treatment and to predict which patients would require colectomy. Levels of identified microRNAs were then measured by quantitative PCR analysis in a validation cohort of 29 independent patients-the effectiveness of the classification algorithm was tested on this cohort.


A deep neural network-based classifier identified 9 microRNAs plus 5 clinical factors, routinely recorded at time of hospital admission, that associated with responses of patients to treatment. This panel discriminated responders to steroids from non-responders with 93% accuracy (area under the curve, 0.91). We identified 3 algorithms, based on microRNA levels, that identified responders to infliximab vs non-responders (84% accuracy, AUC = 0.82) and responders to cyclosporine vs non-responders (80% accuracy, AUC = 0.79).


We developed an algorithm that identifies patients with ASUC who respond vs do not respond to first- and second-line treatments, based on microRNA expression profiles in colon tissues.