New research indicates that the analysis of vapors from patients’ fecal samples is a potential non-invasive tool for an early differential diagnosis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), namely Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, through the identification of biomarkers. The research article, entitled “Investigation of fecal volatile organic metabolites as novel diagnostic biomarkers in inflammatory bowel disease,” was published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
The diagnosis of IBD can be a complex and invasive procedure, causing disease-related disability and lower quality of life in patients, and treatment-related costs on the healthcare system. Recent research has looked into the possibility of using the assessment of metabolites as non-invasive fecal biomarkers to diagnose and tract the progression of IBD.
Fecal volatile organic metabolites (VOMs), chemicals that are produced during and as a result of metabolism, can be altered due to bowel diseases and other gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. The variations in VOMs are thought to be derived from dietary habits, digestive processes and excretory variations, among others.
Dysfunction in gut microbiota (dysbiosis) has also been highlighted as a potential cause for variations in VOMs, and such dysfunction is also increasingly correlated, either as a cause or a consequence, with several GI disorders including IBD. Understanding the pathological role of gut microbial in IBD and finding a way to monitor it, could provide not only non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers but also the development of new therapeutic approaches.
Researchers investigated the changes in VOMs through the analysis of fecal samples from IBD patients, its relationship with gut microbiota, as well as their potential role as novel non-invasive fecal biomarkers for the diagnosis and monitoring of disease activity. Fecal samples were obtained from 117 people with Crohn’s disease, 100 with ulcerative colitis, and 109 healthy controls, followed by extraction of VOMs and analysis by gas chromatography mass spectrometry.
The results indicated that the VOMs profile gave a clear distinction between active Crohn’s disease, inactive disease and healthy controls (no disease), while a less distinct separation was found between active ulcerative colitis, inactive and healthy controls. The model also distinguished patients with small bowel Crohn’s disease from healthy controls, and patients with colonic Crohn’s disease from patients with ulcerative colitis.
The research team concluded in their article that “Analysis of fecal volatile organic metabolites can provide an understanding of gut metabolomic changes in IBD. It has the potential to provide a non-invasive means of diagnosing IBD, and can differentiate between UC [ulcerative colitis] and CD [Cr].”