Systemic Inflammatory Protein Profiles Distinguish Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Ulcerative Colitis, Irrespective of Inflammation or IBS-Like Symptoms

Moraes L1, Magnusson MK1, Mavroudis G2, Polster A3, Jonefjäll B2, Törnblom H3, Sundin J1,3, Simrén M3,4, Strid H5, Öhman L1,3. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2020 Jan 4. pii: izz322. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izz322. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Institute of Biomedicine University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Department of Internal Medicine, Kungälv Hospital, Kungälv, Sweden.

Department of Internal Medicine & Clinical Nutrition, Institute of Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Department of Internal Medicine, Södra Älvsborg Hospital, Borås, Sweden.


BACKGROUND: Inflammatory mechanisms of ulcerative colitis (UC) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may overlap or are part of different spectrums. However, potential links between inflammation and IBS-like symptoms in these patient groups are still unclear. The aim of this study was to determine if the systemic inflammatory protein (SIP) profiles differ between UC patients, with presence of inflammation or in remission with or without IBS-like symptoms, and IBS patients.

METHODS: Serum from patients with active UC (UCA), UC patients in remission with or without IBS-like symptoms (UCR + IBS, UCR-IBS), IBS patients (IBS), and healthy subjects (HS) was analyzed using the ProSeek Multiplex Inflammation kit, which detects 92 proteins.

RESULTS: The exploratory cohort consisted of 166 subjects (UCA, n = 40; UCR-IBS, n = 45; UCR + IBS, n = 20; IBS, n = 40; HS, n = 21). Systemic inflammatory protein profiles separated UC from non-UC (HS and IBS) patients in multivariate analysis, revealing caspase 8, axin 1, sulfotransferase 1A1, and tumor necrosis factor superfamily member 14 as the variables most important to clustering. Although minor differences were detected between UCR + IBS and UCR-IBS, SIP profiles discriminated UCA from UCR, and interleukin (IL) 17C, IL17A, chemokine ligand 9, and transforming growth factor-α characterized active inflammation. SIP profiles weakly discriminated HS from IBS, although fibroblast growth factor 21 and IL6 serum levels were higher in IBS. Results were confirmed in a validation cohort (UCA, n = 15; UCR + IBS, n = 9; IBS, n = 14).

CONCLUSIONS: SIP profiles distinguish UC patients from IBS patients, irrespective of inflammation or IBS-like symptoms, suggesting that inflammatory mechanisms of the diseases are part of different spectrums.

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