Infectious diarrhea is a major cause of morbidity. A rapid and inexpensive assay for the diagnosis of infectious gastroenteritis would expedite appropriate therapy and prevent unnecessary and potentially invasive testing. This article summarizes assays for the diagnosis of infectious gastroenteritis based on the host response to bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. This includes both systemic biomarkers (such as C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and serum cytokines) and fecal biomarkers (such as lactoferrin, fecal leukocyte analysis, and calprotectin). Although some of these assays have value as adjunct diagnostics, they lack sensitivity and specificity as stand-alone tests in this setting.
Keywords: Biomarker; C-reactive protein; Erythrocyte sedimentation reaction; Fecal leukocyte; IFN-γ; IL-6; IL-8; TNF-α.
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