Clinicians’ Guide to the Use of Fecal Calprotectin to Identify and Monitor Disease Activity in Inflammatory Bowel Disease
BACKGROUND: Objective monitoring of the severity of inflammation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an essential part of disease management. However, repeat endoscopy to define extent and severity of inflammation is not practical. Fecal calprotectin (FC) is a biomarker that can be used as a surrogate test to distinguish inflammatory from noninflammatory gastrointestinal disease.METHODS: A targeted search of the literature regarding FC, focusing primarily on the past three years, was conducted to develop practical clinical guidance on the current utility of FC in the routine management of IBD patients.RESULTS: It is recommended that samples for FC testing be obtained from the first bowel excretion of the day. FC testing should be used as standard of care to accurately confirm inflammation and ‘real-time’ disease activity when a clinician suspects an IBD flare. Although FC is a reliable marker of inflammation, its role in routine monitoring in improving long-term outcomes has not yet been fully assessed. Based on available evidence, the authors suggest the following cut-off values and management strategies: when FC levels are <50 μg/g to 100 μg/g, quiescent disease is likely and therapy should be continued; when FC levels are >100 μg/g to 250 μg/g, inflammation is possible and further testing (eg, colonoscopy) is required to confirm inflammation; and when FC levels are >250 μg/g, active inflammation is likely and strategies to control inflammation should be initiated (eg, optimizing current therapies or switching to an alternative therapy).DISCUSSION: FC is a useful biomarker to accurately assess the degree of inflammation and should be incorporated into the management of patients with IBD.