Faecal calprotectin in inflammatory bowel diseases: a review focused on meta-analyses and routine usage limitations

Laserna-Mendieta EJ1,2, Lucendo AJ1,3. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2019 Jan 7. pii: /j/cclm.ahead-of-print/cclm-2018-1063/cclm-2018-1063.xml. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2018-1063. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Department of Gastroenterology, Hospital General de Tomelloso, Tomelloso, Spain.

Clinical Laboratory, Hospital General de Villarrobledo, Villarrobledo, Spain.

Biomedical Research Network Centre for Liver and Digestive Diseases (CIBEREHD), Madrid, Spain.


A growing body of evidence has been published about the usefulness of measuring calprotectin in faecal samples (FCAL) in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) assessment, including diagnosis, monitoring of disease activity and relapse prediction. Several systematic reviews with meta-analyses compiling studies for each particular clinical setting have been carried out in recent years. Most of these were focused on the use of FCAL in IBD diagnosis and showed a relevant role for this marker in selecting patients with gastrointestinal symptoms who would not need a further examination by endoscopy. Although a lesser number of meta-analyses have been performed on the use of FCAL as a surrogate marker of disease activity, a close correlation between FCAL and endoscopic activity of IBD has been shown. With respect to the predictive capacity of FCAL for IBD relapse, a single meta-analysis published indicates that this role is more limited. Furthermore, FCAL thresholds vary considerably depending on the clinical setting and, what is more concerning, among different commercially available assays due to a lack of FCAL concentration interchangeability. Here, we summarise recent publications about the role and limitations of FCAL in IBD, with a special focus on meta-analyses, and give an overview of alternative faecal biomarkers.

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