Objective: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and collagenous colitis (CC) share chronically recurring symptoms of altered bowel habits associated with abdominal pain or discomfort. The aims of the present study were to investigate whether inflammatory markers could be detected in faeces from patients with IBS and CC, and to elucidate whether such analyses could be used as non-invasive tools to distinguish between these disorders.
Material and methods: Stool samples were obtained from 18 patients with CC, 46 patients with IBS and 20 healthy controls (HC). Eosinophil protein X (EPX), myeloperoxidase (MPO), tryptase, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1beta) and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) were measured in supernatants from processed faeces using immunoassays.
Results: EPX levels were enhanced in faeces from CC patients (median 3.8 microg/g (0.47-16.2)) compared to patients with IBS (0.44 microg/g (0.25-1.8)), p<0.001, and HC (0.46 microg/g (0.21-1.3)), p<0.001. In addition, MPO was increased in CC patients (11.7 microg/g (2.0-124)) compared to IBS patients (1.7 microg/g (0.81-5.2)), p<0.01, and HC (2.5 microg/g (1.1-6.3)), p<0.05. Tryptase was found in 9/18 patients with CC, 6/46 with IBS and 1/19 HC. IL-1beta was only enhanced in 2/11 CC patients and TNFalpha was not detected in any sample.
Conclusions: Increased levels of EPX, MPO and tryptase were observed in stools from collagenous colitis patients, whereas the levels in IBS patients did not differ from healthy controls. Our data suggest that faecal markers could be used as part of the clinical work-up to determine which patients should be biopsied and evaluated for collagenous colitis.