Review article: biological activity markers in inflammatory bowel disease

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2007 Feb 1;25(3):247-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.03184.x. Epub 2007 Jan 8.


Background: Traditionally, inflammatory bowel disease activity is assessed by clinical activity indices that measure clinical symptoms and endoscopic indices that measure endoscopic inflammation. Biological markers are a non-invasive way of objectively measuring inflammation and can play an adjunctive or primary role in the assessment of disease activity.

Aim: To review the data on biological markers for assessment of disease activity and prediction of relapse in inflammatory bowel disease.

Methods: To collect relevant articles, a PubMed search was performed from 1980 to 2006 using following search terms in combination: inflammatory bowel disease, biomarkers, inflammation, disease activity, relapse, acute phase reactants cytokines, interleukins, adhesion molecules, integrins, calprotectin and lactoferrin.

Results: Biological activity markers can be classified into serological, faecal and miscellaneous categories. Acute phase reactants levels correlate with disease activity and some can be used to help predict relapse. Cytokines and adhesion molecules are elevated in active disease inconsistently. Faecal markers are useful in assessment of disease activity and relapse.

Conclusions: Acute phase reactants and faecal markers are useful to assess the disease activity in clinical practice. More data are required on cytokines and adhesion molecules. C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, interleukins and faecal markers may be useful in predicting a relapse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers