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Seromarkers of collagen I and III metabolism in active Crohn's disease. Relation to disease activity and response to therapy.
  1. J Kjeldsen,
  2. O B Schaffalitzky de Muckadell,
  3. P Junker
  1. Department of Medical Gastroenterology S, Odense University Hospital, Denmark.


    Crohn's disease is characterised by gradual development of intestinal fibrotic lesions containing large amounts of collagen type I, III, and V. Measurement of circulating connective tissue metabolites has emerged as a useful tool for assessment of fibroproliferative activity in various diseases. Serum concentrations of procollagen peptides, N-terminal propeptide of type III procollagen (PII-INP), and C-terminal propeptide of type I procollagen (PICP), reflect the synthesis rate of the parent collagens, while the C-terminal telopeptide of type I collagen (ICTP) reflects its degradation. S-PIIINP, S-PICP, and S-ICTP were measured by radioimmunoassays in 29 patients with active Crohn's disease. S-ICTP was significantly increased, median 6.2 micrograms/l (95% CI 5.2 to 8.7 micrograms/l) versus controls 2.6 micrograms/l (2.5 to 2.7 micrograms/l) (p < 0.0001), S-PICP reduced, 100 micrograms/l (80 to 110 micrograms/l) versus 132 micrograms/l (124 to 141 micrograms/l) (p = 0.001), and S-PIIINP did not differ from controls. Patients with sustained clinical remission during prednisolone therapy exhibited an increase in S-PICP (p = 0.0052). S-PIIINP changed significantly (p = 0.0002), however, exhibiting a biphasic pattern. S-ICTP decreased (p = 0.015) in treatment responders but remained above the upper normal limit even when clinical remission had been achieved. Non-responders showed no significant changes in any of the marker molecules of collagen synthesis or degradation. Correlations were found between S-PIIINP and S-PICP (p < 0.005) and S-ICTP (p < 0.02), and between S-ICTP and S-orosomucoid (p < 0.005) and S-C reactive protein (p < 0.02). By contrast, there was no relation between the connective tissue metabolites and Harvey Bradshaw Index. These data provide evidence that collagen I degradation is increased not only in active Crohn's disease, but also in patients entering clinical remission. The concurrent normal/low-normal values of markers of collagen formation may reflect a changed local or systemic elimination of the propeptides.

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