1Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Recent observations suggest that subjective measures of disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often misleading. Objective measures of inflammation are more closely associated with important long-term outcomes, but often depend upon invasive and costly procedures such as ileocolonoscopy and cross-sectional imaging by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Noninvasive, accurate and inexpensive measures of intestinal inflammation would allow clinicians to adopt widely the paradigm of adjusting therapies with a goal of controlling inflammation. Blood, stool and urine markers have all been explored as indicators of intestinal inflammation in IBD, and while none have been universally adopted, some have been well-characterized, and others hold great promise. Serum C-reactive protein and fecal calprotectin are among the best-studied noninvasive biomarkers of inflammation in IBD, and their test characteristics have been described in the setting of differentiating IBD from irritable bowel syndrome, for grading inflammation, to describe the response to therapy, and in demonstrating recurrent inflammation after medical or surgically-induced remission. High-throughput research platforms, including gene expression arrays, metabolomics and proteomics, are also being applied to the discovery of novel biomarkers of inflammation. It is certain that biomarkers of inflammation will attain growing importance in the clinic as we strive for more effective and cost-effective strategies to treat patients with IBD.