Tests for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) such as endoscopy or colonoscopy are invasive, time-consuming and can be expensive. The fecal marker Calprotectin has emerged as a non-invasive and efficient diagnostic tool that detects and monitors intestinal inflammation and disease activity of the bowels. The use of a fecal Calprotectin assay also reduces the cost of care for patients with suspected IBD.
Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic diseases that result from an inflammation of the intestinal wall. IBD and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) share many symptoms such as chronic abdominal pain, discomfort with diarrhea or constipation. IBD includes Crohn’s disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC) and is characterized by periods of symptomatic inflammatory relapse and remission. While IBS is a non-inflammatory disease for which the treatment is only symptomatic, the choice of effective therapies for IBD is growing rapidly. Precise diagnosis of IBD is therefore crucial. To date, the diagnosis was mainly based on both clinical and endoscopic arguments. The use of an easy, fast, reliable, non-invasive and inexpensive biological assay is important for the diagnosis but also in the evolutionary and therapeutic monitoring of IBD.
In a recent review, published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, scientists from the Beaujon Hospital in Clichy, France focused on fecal calprotectin as a primary tool for the differential diagnosis of IBS and IBD and follow-up of IBD patients. Fecal markers such as calprotectin have emerged as new diagnostic tools to detect and monitor intestinal inflammation. Calprotectin is a protein occurring in large amounts in neutrophil granulocytes (a type of white blood cells that contain granules in the cytoplasm).
An elevated calprotectin level in the stool is the direct consequence of neutrophil degranulation (release of granules from the cell) due to mucosal damage and reflects the degree of the severity of the inflammation. The Calprotectin level is not affected by lifestyle changes in adults, except for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs treatment. The marker thus allows the discrimination between functional and organic bowel processes with good performances and patients with increased fecal calprotectin levels can be referred early to an endoscopic examination.
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