Biomarkers as Potential Treatment Targets in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review
There is increasing interest in the concept of ‘treat-to-target’ in inflammatory bowel disease as a mechanism to standardize management and prevent complications. While clinical, radiographic and endoscopic treatment end points will figure prominently in this promising management paradigm, the role that noninvasive biomarkers will play is currently undefined. The goal of the present systematic review was to investigate the potential value of biomarkers as treatment targets in inflammatory bowel disease, with particular focus on those best studied: serum C-reactive protein (CRP) and fecal calprotectin. In Crohn disease, elevated CRP levels at baseline predict response to anti-tumour necrosis factor agents, and normalization is usually associated with clinical and endoscopic remission. CRP and hemoglobin levels can be used to help predict clinical relapse in the context of withdrawal of therapy. Ultimately, the authors conclude that currently available biomarkers should not be used as treatment targets in inflammatory bowel disease because they have inadequate operational characteristics to make them safe surrogates for clinical, endoscopic and radiographic evaluation. However, CRP and fecal calprotectin are important adjunctive measures that help alert the clinician to pursue further investigation.