Published online May 28, 2009. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.2463
Revised: February 25, 2009
Accepted: March 4, 2009
Published online: May 28, 2009
Gut inflammation can occur in 30%-60% of patients with spondyloarthropathies. However, the presence of such gut inflammation is underestimated, only 27% of patients with histological evidence of gut inflammation have intestinal symptoms, but subclinical gut inflammation is documented in two-thirds of patients with inflammatory joint disease. There are common genetic and immunological mechanisms behind concomitant inflammation in the joints and intestinal tract. A number of blood tests, e.g. erythrocyte sedimentation rate, orosomucoid, C-reactive protein, and white cell and platelet counts, are probably the most commonly used laboratory markers of inflammatory disease, however, these tests are difficult to interpret in arthropathies associated with gut inflammation, since any increases in their blood levels might be attributable to either the joint disease or to gut inflammation. Consequently, it would be useful to have a marker capable of separately identifying gut inflammation. Fecal proteins, which are indirect markers of neutrophil migration in the gut wall, and intestinal permeability, seem to be ideal for monitoring intestinal inflammation: they are easy to measure non-invasively and are specific for intestinal disease in the absence of gastrointestinal infections. Alongside the traditional markers for characterizing intestinal inflammation, there are also antibodies, in all probability generated by the immune response to microbial antigens and auto-antigens, which have proved useful in establishing the diagnosis and assessing the severity of the condition, as well as the prognosis and the risk of complications. In short, non-invasive investigations on the gut in patients with rheumatic disease may be useful in clinical practice for a preliminary assessment of patients with suspected intestinal disease.