Background: As accessible diagnostic approaches fail to differentiate between ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's colitis (CC) in one-third of patients with predominantly colonic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), leading to inappropriate therapy, we aim to investigate the serum cytokine levels in these patients in search of molecular biometric markers delineating UC from CC.
Methods: We measured 38 cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors using magnetic-bead-based multiplex immunoassay in 25 UC patients, 28 CC patients, and 30 controls. Our results are compared with those from a review of current literature regarding advances in serum cytokine profiles and associated challenges preventing their use for diagnostic/prognostic purposes.
Results: Univariate analysis showed statistically significant increases of eotaxin, GRO, and TNF-α in UC patients compared to controls (Ctrl); interferon γ, interleukin (IL)-6, and IL-7 in CC group compared to Ctrl; and IL-8 in both UC and CC versus Ctrl. No cytokines were found to be different between UC and CC. A generalized linear model identified combinations of cytokines, allowing the identification of UC and CC patients, with area under the curve (AUC) = 0.936, as determined with receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis.
Conclusions: The current knowledge available about circulating cytokines in IBD is often contradictory. The development of an evidence-based tool using cytokines for diagnostic accuracy is still preliminary.
Keywords: Crohn’s disease; biomarkers; cytokines; inflammatory bowel disease; ulcerative colitis.