CD4+ immune response as a potential biomarker of patient reported inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) activity

G Brandhorst, S Weigand, C Eberle, D Raddatz, M Karaus, M Oellerich, P D Walson
Clinica Chimica Acta; International Journal of Clinical Chemistry 2013 June 5, 421: 31-3

BACKGROUND: Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) which are characterized by dysfunctional regulation of the immune system. A number of immune modifying drugs are used to treat CD and UC. Therapy is adjusted largely on the bases of subjective reports of disease activity and non-specific laboratory tests. Identification of a single or combination of immune markers of disease activity could be useful to select and monitor therapeutic responses. However, to date no reliable quantitative associations between IBD activity and laboratory measures of immune function have been identified. This study was designed to evaluate the usefulness of a commercially available laboratory measure of CD4(+) immune function, the Cylex® ImmuKnow®, as a surrogate marker of IBD activity.

METHODS: Adult IBD patients with either CD (N=55, 27 males, mean, SD age=38.5, 11.5 years) or UC (N=45, 24 males, mean, SD age=41.7, 15.4 years) were enrolled. Patients both in clinical remission and with active disease provided responses to structured, validated questionnaires (CDAI and HBI for CD patients and SCCAI for UC patients) used to monitor IBD activity. Whole blood and plasma samples were collected to quantify various markers of disease status including routine cell counts and differentials (CBCs), CRP, and albumin (Alb), as well as CD4(+) immune response (Cylex® ImmuKnow®, N=98). Results were compared between all IBD patients as well as between CD and UC subgroups.

RESULTS: There was a good correlation between the results of CDAI and HBI scores (r=0.811, p<0.01, Spearman-Rho) but HBI scores correlated slightly better (r=0.575, p<0.001) than the CDAI's (r=0.449, p=0.001) with CD patients' reported perception of their general condition. CDAI and HBI scores categorized 12/55 versus 36/55 of CD patients respectively as having active disease. SCCAI scores indicated that 25/45 of UC patients had active disease. Cylex® results (in ng/mL of ATP) were increased in 74/98 IBD subjects (≥525 ng/mL) but were influenced by the use of systemic corticosteroids (SCS) and infliximab. There were weak but statistically significant Spearman-Rho correlations between Alb concentrations and both CDAI (r=0.413, p=0.002) and HBI (r=0.325, p=0.017) scores as well as between CRP values and HBI scores (r=0.331, p=0.016). Correlations between CRP and both CDAI and SCCAI scores and between Alb and SCCAI scores were not significant and there were no significant positive associations between any of the three clinical scores and Cylex® results.

CONCLUSIONS: CD4(+) immune responses were significantly elevated in IBD patients whether or not they were in clinical remission but were influenced by treatment. There were some significant correlations between the clinical scores and CRP or Alb but not with the CD4(+) results. Both other clinical scoring systems, other measures of immune function, and CD4(+) immune response changes over time should be examined to see if this or other laboratory measures of immune response are predictive of actual disease activity or symptoms in CD or UC patients.

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