Tests that now deserve to be more widely adopted in IBD clinical practice

Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2020 Jul 27;13:1756284820944088. doi: 10.1177/1756284820944088. eCollection 2020.


Inflammatory bowel diseases are chronic relapsing immune-mediated diseases of the intestinal tract with multifaceted manifestations and treatment related morbidity. Faecal and blood tests, radiological, endoscopic and histologic investigations are now widely used for managing both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. Over the years, a number of new investigations have been proposed but not widely adopted yet. Patients with Crohn's disease may have multiple causes of diarrhoea, not always attributable to disease exacerbation, but sometimes linked to bile acid malabsorption; we have a reliable serum test, C4, that allows us to recognize and treat this cause of diarrhoea efficaciously and not empirically, but it is not available or used widely. There is genetic inter-individual variability in drug responses, in terms of both efficacy and toxicity, leading to high rates of therapeutic failure. Patients treated with thiopurine or, more rarely, 5-aminosalicylic acid may suffer from unpredictable and serious adverse events, some of these with pathogenesis related to genetic variants: myelosuppression, acute pancreatitis and nephrotoxicity. The identification of pre-treatment genetic tests can optimize therapeutic choice and avoid adverse events. With regard to biological drugs, patients can experience primary non-response or loss of response due to induction of immune responses to the drugs affecting drug efficacy and determining hypersensitivity reactions. We have specifically reviewed a number of investigations, whose use is currently limited, and highlighted four tests that deserve to be more widely incorporated in clinical practice as these could improve medical decision-making and patient outcomes.

Keywords: C4 test; HLA and anti-drug antibody; Nudix hydrolase 15; TPMT testing; bile acid malabsorption; immunogenicity; inflammatory bowel disease; thiopurine S-methyltransferase.

Publication types

  • Review