Prolyl hydroxylase activity in rectal mucosa was found to be significantly greater in 11 patients with Crohn's disease than in 11 control subjects with the irritable bowel syndrome and 16 patients with ulcerative colitis (P less than 0.005). Seven of the patients with Crohn's disease had a histologically normal rectum. This abnormality in apparently normal mucosa supports the concept that Crohn's disease is a 'continuous' disease of the gastrointestinal tract. Although there was no significant difference in prolyl hydroxylase activity between control subjects and patients with ulcerative colitis, those patients with quiescent disease tended to have lower values than those with active mucosal inflammation. Prolyl hydroxylase activity could not, however, be detected in the sera of either healthy control subjects or patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
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