While the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is incompletely understood, disruption of epithelial integrity is suspected to play a prominent role in disease initiation and progression. Currently, there is no convenient way to measure this in vivo.
Our aim is to determine whether a mucosal integrity (MI) testing device that has been used to measure MI in the esophagus can also be used to measure barrier function in the colon during colonoscopy.
Mucosal integrity testing was measured in patients with IBD (n = 17) and controls (n = 7) during colonoscopy. During the procedure, an MI catheter was passed down the working channel of the colonoscope and placed along the mucosal wall to measure MI in the rectum, left, transverse, and right colon. In patients with IBD, MI measurements and biopsies were taken in areas which appeared inflamed when present. We then determined if there was a significant difference in MI between patients with IBD and controls.
MI was significantly higher in the rectum of patients with IBD (CD and UC combined) versus control colons [767 (618-991) vs. 531 (418-604) ohms, P < 0.01]. There were no significant differences in MI among patients with IBD versus controls in the right, transverse, or left colon. Within the IBD group, there were no significant differences in MI between inflamed versus non-inflamed rectums. There was no correlation between quality of life scores or endoscopic severity with MI, though this study was likely underpowered to detect these differences.
Rectal MI is significantly higher in patients with IBD versus controls. Future studies are needed to determine how this information can be used clinically.