Background and aims: Initiation of a fibrotic process has been suggested as part of the intestinal response to chronic inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease. YKL-40 has been proposed as a new serum marker of fibrosis. We studied compared the serum levels of YKL-40 in patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease with inflammatory and healthy controls.
Patients and methods: YKL-40 serum levels were measured in 179 patients with inflammatory bowel disease (94 ulcerative colitis, 85 Crohn's disease), in 23 with intestinal inflammation of other causes, and 70 matched healthy controls using a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. YKL-40 levels were assessed in terms of disease activity, type and localization.
Results: Mean serum YKL-40 levels were 102.6+/-82.7 ng/ml in ulcerative colitis patients and 112.2+/-83.7 ng/ml in Crohn's disease patients, significantly higher than in healthy controls (64.1+/-21.4 ng/ml) but not significantly different from inflammatory controls (77.8+/-23.1 ng/ml). Disease activity and C-reactive protein levels were significantly correlated with YKL-40 levels in both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Crohn's disease patients with ileum localization had significantly higher YKL-40 levels than those with ileocolonic or colonic disease. Patients with stenotic disease had mean YKL-40 levels not significantly different than those with nonstenotic disease.
Conclusion: Serum levels of YKL-40 are increased in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, and this is associated with the inflammatory process rather than with the degree of fibrosis.