Biomarkers of Inflammation in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Gastroenterology. 2015 Oct;149(5):1275-1285.e2. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Jul 9.


Recent observations suggest that subjective measures of disease activity in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are often misleading. Objective measures of inflammation are more closely associated with important long-term outcomes, but often depend upon invasive and costly procedures such as ileocolonoscopy and cross-sectional imaging by computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. Noninvasive, accurate, and inexpensive measures of intestinal inflammation would allow clinicians to adopt widely the paradigm of adjusting therapies with a goal of controlling inflammation. Blood, stool, and urine markers have all been explored as indicators of intestinal inflammation in IBD, and although none has been universally adopted, some have been well-characterized, and others hold great promise. Serum C-reactive protein and fecal calprotectin are among the best-studied noninvasive biomarkers of inflammation in IBD, and their test characteristics have been described in the setting of differentiating IBD from irritable bowel syndrome, for grading inflammation, to describe the response to therapy, and in demonstrating recurrent inflammation after medical or surgically induced remission. High-throughput research platforms, including gene expression arrays, metabolomics and proteomics, are also being applied to the discovery of novel biomarkers of inflammation. It is certain that biomarkers of inflammation will attain growing importance in the clinic as we strive for more effective and cost-effective strategies to treat patients with IBD.

Keywords: Biomarkers; C-Reactive Protein; Calprotectin; Crohn’s Disease; Ulcerative Colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / metabolism*
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Disease Progression
  • Feces
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / pathology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / metabolism
  • Metabolomics* / methods
  • Prognosis
  • Proteomics* / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • C-Reactive Protein