Anemia in inflammatory bowel disease: an under-estimated problem?

Rogler G1, Vavricka S2. Front Med (Lausanne). 2015 Jan 19;1:58. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2014.00058. eCollection 2014.
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1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zürich , Zürich , Switzerland. 2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital Zürich , Zürich , Switzerland ; Division of Gastroenterology, Triemlispital , Zürich , Switzerland.


Anemia is one of the most frequent complications and/or extraintestinal manifestations of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Iron deficiency is the most important cause of anemia in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients. Iron deficiency even without anemia may impact the quality of life of our IBD patients. In the last 10 years, the understanding of the pathology of iron-deficiency anemia and "anemia of chronic diseases" has increased; new diagnostic tools have been developed and new therapeutic strategies have been discussed. Hepcidin has been identified to be a central regulator of iron absorption from the intestine and of iron plasma levels. Hepcidin is regulated by iron deficiency but also as an acute phase protein by pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukin-6. Innovative diagnostic tools have not been introduced in clinical routine or are not available for routine diagnostics. As iron substitution therapy is easy these days with a preference for intravenous substitution, the impact of differential diagnosis of anemia in IBD patients is underestimated.

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