Endoscopic score vs. fecal biomarkers for predicting relapse in patients with ulcerative colitis after clinical remission and mucosal healing

Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2018 Feb 20;9(3):136. doi: 10.1038/s41424-018-0006-7.


Objectives: Achieving endoscopic remission or decreasing the level of fecal biomarkers as an ideal therapeutic goal in ulcerative colitis has not been determined. This prospective study was to compare the clinical relevance of endoscopic score with fecal biomarkers for predicting relapse after clinical remission and mucosal healing (MH).

Methods: One hundred and sixty-four patients who achieved clinical remission and MH (Mayo endoscopic subscore (MES) 0 or 1) were included. At entry, fecal samples were collected for the measurement of calprotectin, lactoferrin, and hemoglobin. Thereafter patients received masalamine maintenance therapy, and were followed for 12 months.

Results: During the 12-month study, 46 patients (28%) relapsed. The relapse rate was not significantly higher in 27/80 patients (34%) with MES 1 than in 19/84 patients (23%) with MES 0 (P = 0.16). The median fecal calprotectin, lactoferrin, and hemoglobin were significantly higher in patients with relapse than those in remission (calprotectin, 182 vs. 94 μg/g; lactoferrin, 185.5 vs. 111 μg/g; hemoglobin, 168 vs. 104 ng/mL; all P < 0.0001). A cutoff value of 115 µg/g calprotectin had 83% sensitivity and 81% specificity to predict relapse, whereas lactoferrin, 145 µg/g had 70% sensitivity and 79% specificity, and hemoglobin, 135 ng/mL showed 74% sensitivity and 73% specificity. The accuracy was significantly lower for hemoglobin as compared with calprotectin and lactoferrin.

Conclusions: Fecal calprotectin, lactoferrin, and to a lesser degree fecal hemoglobin appeared to be objective biomarkers for predicting future relapse after achieving clinical remission and MH. The predictive value of these biomarkers was higher than with MES.