Fecal calprotectin predicts the clinical course of acute severe ulcerative colitis

Am J Gastroenterol. 2009 Mar;104(3):673-8. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2008.119. Epub 2009 Feb 17.


Objectives: Calprotectin is a granulocyte neutrophil-predominant cytosolic protein. Fecal concentrations are elevated in intestinal inflammation and may predict relapse in quiescent inflammatory bowel disease. We aim to investigate fecal calprotectin (FC) as a biomarker in predicting the clinical course of acute severe ulcerative colitis (ASUC).

Methods: In 90 patients with ASUC requiring intensive in-patient medical therapy (January 2005-September 2007), we investigated the discriminant ability of FC to predict colectomy and corticosteroid and infliximab nonresponse. All patients received parenteral corticosteroids as first-line treatment; 21 (23.3%) were also treated with infliximab (5 mg/kg), after failure of corticosteroid therapy.

Results: Of 90 patients, 31 (34.4%) required colectomy, including 11 (52.4%) of those treated with infliximab. Overall FC was high (1,020.0 microg/g interquartile range: 601.5-1,617.5). FC was significantly higher in patients requiring colectomy (1,200.0 vs. 887.0; P=0.04), with a trend toward significance when comparing corticosteroid nonresponders and responders (1,100.0 vs. 863.5; P=0.08), as well as between infliximab nonresponders and responders (1,795.0 vs. 920.5; P=0.06). Receiver-operator characteristic curve analysis yielded an area under the curve of 0.65 to predict colectomy (P=0.04), with a maximum likelihood ratio of 9.23, specificity 97.4%, and sensitivity 24.0% at a cutoff point of 1,922.5 microg/g. Kaplan-Meier analyses showed that using 1,922.5 microg/g over a median follow-up of 1.10 years, 87% of patients will need subsequent colectomy.

Conclusions: This is the first data set to demonstrate that FC levels are dramatically elevated in severe UC. These data raise the possibility that this biomarker can predict response to first or second-line medical therapy in this setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / therapeutic use
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Colectomy
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / diagnosis*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / metabolism
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Infliximab
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex / analysis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Biomarkers
  • Gastrointestinal Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex
  • Infliximab