Digestion. 2021 Sep 8:1-12. doi: 10.1159/000518419. Online ahead of print.
INTRODUCTION: The need for noninvasive markers of disease activity is mandatory in the assessment of Crohn's disease (CD). The most widely fecal biomarker in CD, despite several limits, is fecal calprotectin. This review aims to elucidate the role, if any, of all other fecal biomarkers, as alternative tools for assessing clinical and endoscopic disease activity, and predict capsule endoscopy findings, response to therapy, disease relapse, and postoperative recurrence. These fecal biomarkers included lactoferrin, S100A12, high mobility group box 1, neopterin, polymorphonuclear neutrophil elastase, fecal hemoglobin, alpha1-antitrypsin, lysozyme, human beta-defensin-2, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin, matrix metalloproteinase-9, chitinase 3-like-1, M2-pyruvate kinase, myeloperoxidase, and eosinophil proteins.
METHODS: A systematic electronic search in the medical literature was performed up to April 2020. Seventy eligible studies were identified out of 859 citations. Data were grouped according to the assessment of clinical and endoscopic disease activity, capsule endoscopy findings, response to therapy, prediction of relapse, and postoperative recurrence.
RESULTS: The overall correlation between lactoferrin and clinical indexes is poor, while performance is good with endoscopic scores. Lactoferrin seems to represent a reasonably good surrogate marker of response to therapy and to be potentially useful in identifying patients at high risk for endoscopic relapse or postoperative recurrence. The evaluation of the performance of all other fecal markers is limited by the lack of adequate data.
CONCLUSIONS: None of the fecal markers so far represents an acceptable alternative to calprotectin in clinical practice. Fecal lactoferrin is the only possible exception, but a more extensive investigation is still required.