Diagnostics and prognostics of inflammatory bowel disease with fecal neutrophil-derived biomarkers calprotectin and lactoferrin

Dig Dis. 2013;31(3-4):336-44. doi: 10.1159/000354689. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), and colitis unclassified, collectively defined as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are the consequence of chronic inflammatory reactions in the gastrointestinal tissue. Endoscopy with biopsies is the mainstay in the diagnosis of this inflammation and is also important in the assessment of disease activity and monitoring of treatment. Furthermore, mucosal healing is increasingly becoming a therapeutic target for treatment of IBD and the golden standard of assessing it is endoscopy. However, due to the costs, invasiveness, and to limited endoscopic capacity, the need is strong for reliable surrogate markers of intestinal inflammation. Bowel contents, being in close contact with intestinal mucosa, can take up molecules that are measurable from stool samples and thus can serve as markers of inflammation. The fecal neutrophil-derived biomarkers, especially calprotectin and lactoferrin, have several features of an ideal test for detecting intestinal inflammation: they are noninvasive, simple, and low in cost. The utility of these biomarkers in distinguishing IBD from noninflammatory conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome is well documented. They correlate closely with endoscopic activity both in CD and UC. They allow serial monitoring of disease activity and of treatment success, and can even serve in predicting clinical relapse in unsymptomatic patients or sustained remission after induction with TNF-α-blocking agents. In this review an overview will be given to the role of fecal neutrophil-derived biomarkers calprotectin and lactoferrin in diagnostics and prognostics of IBD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Feces / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Lactoferrin*
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism*
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex
  • Lactoferrin