Comparative study of ASCA (Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody) assays in inflammatory bowel disease

Gastroenterology. 2001 Mar;120(4):827-33. doi: 10.1053/gast.2001.22546.


Background & aims: Anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae antibody (ASCA) is a serologic marker associated with Crohn's disease (CD). Although there is still discussion on its clinical value, several companies each promote their own ASCA assay to be used in the gastroenterologist's practice at considerable expense. The aim of this study was to determine whether different ASCA assays agree sufficiently well for the results to be used interchangeably.

Methods: Blood obtained from a large cohort of IBD patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; 100 with CD, 100 with ulcerative colitis [UC]) and 178 controls (100 healthy blood donors and 78 patients with non-IBD diarrheal illnesses) was studied with 4 different ASCA assays. Sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value were compared. Agreement between assays was evaluated.

Results: Sensitivity of ASCA for CD ranged between 41% and 76%. Sensitivity was inversely related to specificity and positive predictive value. Results correlated well overall (range = 0.54-0.90) and the different ROC curves showed good agreement. When recalculated cutoff points were used, interchangeability increased. However, large differences were seen when absolute values were compared.

Conclusions: A large range in sensitivities and specificities of ASCA for CD is seen with different ASCA assays, mainly as a consequence of the cutoff value chosen for each individual assay. Although agreement between and within assays is good, caution is important when absolute values are used. Standardization of ASCA measurements is greatly needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Fungal / analysis*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / standards*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Fungal