The role of fecal calprotectin in investigating digestive disorders
Calprotectin is a protein found in human neutrophils, and it is released during active periods of inflammation. Fecal calprotectin is a sensitive stool test in the assessment of intestinal inflammation. Fecal calprotectin is used clinically to screen for organic intestinal pathology and as a noninvasive marker for disease activity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Studies have demonstrated a high sensitivity and specificity for detecting and diagnosing mucosal and histologic inflammation in patients with an elevated fecal calprotectin value. The most promising and clinically important use for fecal calprotectin is in the initial stages of diagnosis and ongoing assessment of disease activity in patients with IBD—Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The use of objective markers of inflammation will continue to become more important and widespread in the future, as patients, providers, and payers increasingly desire noninvasive tests that can accurately detect and stratify mucosal and histologic inflammation so that treatment regimens can be optimized and complications such as a need for surgery or the development of a malignancy can be reduced.