Role of faecal calprotectin as non-invasive marker of intestinal inflammation

Dig Liver Dis. 2003 Sep;35(9):642-7. doi: 10.1016/s1590-8658(03)00381-5.


Background/aim: Faecal calprotectin, a neutrophil granulocyte cytosol protein, is considered a promising marker of intestinal inflammation. We assessed and compared the faecal calprotectin concentration in patients with organic and functional chronic intestinal disorders.

Patients and methods: The study was carried out, using a commercially available ELISA test, measuring calprotectin in stool samples collected from 131 patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, 26 with intestinal neoplasms, 48 with irritable bowel syndrome and 34 healthy subjects.

Results: Median faecal calprotectin was significantly increased in Crohn's disease (231 microg/g, 95% confidence interval (CI) 110-353 microg/g), ulcerative colitis (167 microg/g, 95% CI 59-276 microg/g), and neoplasms (105 microg/g, 95% CI 0-272 microg/g), whereas normal values were found in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (22 microg/g, 95% CI 9-35 microg/g) and in healthy subjects (11 microg/g, 95% CI 3-18 microg/g). A positive correlation was observed with clinical activity scores in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. In both groups, patients with clinically active disease showed higher calprotectin levels than those observed in patients with quiescent disease (405 microg/g, 95% CI 200-610 microg/g vs. 213 microg/g, 95% CI 85-341 microg/g in CD patients, p<0.05, and 327 microg/g, 95% CI 104-550 microg/g vs. 123 microg/g, 95% CI 40-206 microg/g in UC patients, p<0.001).

Conclusions: Faecal calprotectin appears to be a promising and non-invasive biomarker of intestinal inflammation. If these findings are confirmed, it may provide a useful test for the diagnosis and follow up of inflammatory bowel diseases.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Feces / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Intestinal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex / analysis*


  • Biomarkers
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex