Background: Neutralizing autoantibodies (Abs) against granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF Ab) have been associated with stricturing ileal Crohn's disease (CD) in a largely pediatric patient cohort (total 394, adult CD 57). The aim of this study was to examine this association in 2 independent predominantly adult inflammatory bowel disease patient cohorts.
Methods: Serum samples from 742 subjects from the NIDDK IBD Genetics Consortium and 736 subjects from Australia were analyzed for GM-CSF Ab and genetic markers. We conducted multiple regression analysis with backward elimination to assess the contribution of GM-CSF Ab levels and established CD risk alleles and smoking on ileal disease location in the 477 combined CD subjects from both cohorts. We also determined associations of GM-CSF Ab levels with complications requiring surgical intervention in combined CD subjects in both cohorts.
Results: Serum samples from patients with CD expressed significantly higher concentrations of GM-CSF Ab when compared with ulcerative colitis or controls in each cohort. Nonsmokers with ileal CD expressed significantly higher GM-CSF Ab concentrations in the Australian cohort (P = 0.002). Elevated GM-CSF Ab, ileal disease location, and disease duration more than 3 years were independently associated with stricturing/penetrating behavior and intestinal resection for CD.
Conclusions: The expression of high GM-CSF Ab is a risk marker for aggressive CD behavior and complications including surgery. Modifying factors include environmental exposure to smoking and genetic risk markers.