Prediction of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Course Based on Fecal Scent

Sensors (Basel). 2022 Mar 17;22(6):2316. doi: 10.3390/s22062316.


The early prediction of changes in disease state allows timely treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to be performed, which improves disease outcome. The aim of this pilot study is to explore the potential of fecal volatile organic compound (VOC) profiles to predict disease course. In this prospective cohort, IBD patients were asked to collect two fecal samples and fill in a questionnaire at set intervals. Biochemically, active disease was defined by FCP ≥ 250 mg/g and remission was defined by FCP < 100 mg/g. Clinically, active disease was defined by a Harvey Bradshaw Index (HBI) ≥ 5 for Crohn's disease or by a Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index (SCCAI) ≥ 3 for ulcerative colitis. Clinical remission was defined by an HBI < 4 or SCCAI ≤ 2. Fecal VOC profiles were measured using gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (GC-IMS). The fecal samples collected first were included for VOC analysis to predict disease state at the following collection. A total of 182 subsequently collected samples met the disease-state criteria. The fecal VOC profiles of samples displaying low FCP levels at the first measurements differed between patients preceding exacerbation versus those who remained in remission (AUC 0.75; p < 0.01). Samples with FCP levels at the first time point displayed different VOC profiles in patients preceding remission compared with those whose disease remained active (AUC 0.86; p < 0.01). Based on disease activity scores, there were no significant differences in any of the comparisons. Alterations in fecal VOC profiles preceding changes in FCP levels may be useful to detect disease-course alterations at an early stage. This could lead to earlier treatment, decreased numbers of complications, surgery and hospital admission.

Keywords: biomarker; inflammatory bowel disease; volatile organic compounds.

MeSH terms

  • Colitis, Ulcerative* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Odorants
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies