Molecular diagnosis and classification of inflammatory bowel disease.
Introduction: Traditional diagnosis and classification of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) have been based on clinical evaluation, laboratory testing, endoscopy, imaging, and histological examinations. With the advancement of medical technology, an increasing number of molecular surrogates are playing a key role in diagnosis, differential diagnosis, assessment of disease activity, prediction of clinical course, and therapeutic response of IBD.
Areas covered: The authors review roles of both existing and emerging surrogates including genetic, serological, histologic, and fecal markers in diagnosis and classification of IBD. Comparisons in advantages and disadvantages of different markers have also been discussed. In addition, this review underscores controversial and unclear aspects which need further study.
Expert commentary: IBD is characteristic of chronicity, relapse-remission and destructiveness. It is of great importance for clinicians to make an accurate diagnosis and classification. Current and new molecular markers perform well with acceptable sensitivity and specificity. The use of molecular markers in clinical practice needs to be further explored and then generalized. More work is warranted to identify novel useful markers and elucidate how to apply them together with current markers in clinical settings.