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Circulating cathelicidin levels correlate with mucosal disease activity in ulcerative colitis, risk of intestinal stricture in Crohn’s disease, and clinical prognosis in inflammatory bowel disease



Cathelicidin (LL-37) is an antimicrobial peptide known to be associated with various autoimmune diseases. We attempt to determine if cathelicidin can accurately reflect IBD disease activity. We hypothesize that serum cathelicidin correlates with mucosal disease activity, stricture, and clinical prognosis of IBD patients.


Serum samples were collected from two separate cohorts of patients at the University of California, Los Angeles. Cohort 1 consisted of 50 control, 23 UC, and 28 CD patients. Cohort 2 consisted of 20 control, 57 UC, and 67 CD patients. LL-37 levels were determined by ELISA. Data from both cohorts were combined for calculation of accuracies in indicating mucosal disease activity, relative risks of stricture, and odds ratios of predicting disease development.


Serum cathelicidin levels were inversely correlated with Partial Mayo Scores of UC patients and Harvey-Bradshaw Indices of CD patients. Among IBD patients with moderate or severe initial disease activity, the patients with high initial LL-37 levels had significantly better recovery than the patients with low initial LL-37 levels after 6-18 months, suggesting that high LL-37 levels correlate with good prognosis. Co-evaluation of LL-37 and CRP levels was more accurate than CRP alone or LL-37 alone in the correlation with Mayo Endoscopic Score of UC patients. Low LL-37 levels indicated a significantly elevated risk of intestinal stricture in CD patients.


Co-evaluation of LL-37 and CRP can indicate mucosal disease activity in UC patients. LL-37 can predict future clinical activity in IBD patients and indicate risk of intestinal stricture in CD patients.

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