Background: To optimise treatment of ulcerative colitis (UC), patients need repeated assessment of mucosal inflammation. Current non-invasive biomarkers and clinical activity indices do not accurately reflect disease activity in all patients and cannot discriminate UC from non-UC colitis. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in exhaled air could be predictive of active disease or remission in Crohn's disease.
Aim: To investigate whether VOCs are able to differentiate between active UC, UC in remission and non-UC colitis.
Methods: UC patients participated in a 1-year study. Clinical activity index, blood, faecal and breath samples were collected at each out-patient visit. Patients with clear defined active faecal calprotectin >250 μg/g and inactive disease (Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index <3, C-reactive protein <5 mg/L and faecal calprotectin <100 μg/g) were included for cross-sectional analysis. Non-UC colitis was confirmed by stool culture or radiological evaluation. Breath samples were analysed by gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry and kernel-based method to identify discriminating VOCs.
Results: In total, 72 UC (132 breath samples; 62 active; 70 remission) and 22 non-UC-colitis patients (22 samples) were included. Eleven VOCs predicted active vs. inactive UC in an independent internal validation set with 92% sensitivity and 77% specificity (AUC 0.94). Non-UC colitis patients could be clearly separated from active and inactive UC patients with principal component analysis.
Conclusions: Volatile organic compounds can accurately distinguish active disease from remission in UC and profiles in UC are clearly different from profiles in non-UC colitis patients. VOCs have demonstrated potential as new non-invasive biomarker to monitor inflammation in UC.
© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.