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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Preclinical ulcerative colitis is poorly defined. We aimed to characterize the preclinical systemic inflammation in ulcerative colitis, using a comprehensive set of proteins. METHODS: We obtained plasma samples biobanked from individuals who developed ulcerative colitis later in life (n = 72) and matched healthy controls (n = 140) within a population-based screening cohort. We measured 92 proteins related to inflammation using a proximity extension assay. The biologic relevance of these findings was validated in an inception cohort of patients with ulcerative colitis (n = 101) and healthy controls (n = 50). To examine the influence of genetic and environmental factors on these markers, a cohort of healthy twin siblings of patients with ulcerative colitis (n = 41) and matched healthy controls (n = 37) were explored. RESULTS: Six proteins (MMP10, CXCL9, CCL11, SLAMF1, CXCL11 and MCP-1) were up-regulated (P < .05) in preclinical ulcerative colitis compared with controls based on both univariate and multivariable models. Ingenuity Pathway Analyses identified several potential key regulators, including interleukin-1β, tumor necrosis factor, interferon-gamma, oncostatin M, nuclear factor-κB, interleukin-6, and interleukin-4. For validation, we built a multivariable model to predict disease in the inception cohort. The model discriminated treatment-naïve patients with ulcerative colitis from controls with leave-one-out cross-validation (area under the curve = 0.92). Consistently, MMP10, CXCL9, CXCL11, and MCP-1, but not CCL11 and SLAMF1, were significantly up-regulated among the healthy twin siblings, even though their relative abundances seemed higher in incident ulcerative colitis. CONCLUSIONS: A set of inflammatory proteins are up-regulated several years before a diagnosis of ulcerative colitis. These proteins were highly predictive of an ulcerative colitis diagnosis, and some seemed to be up-regulated already at exposure to genetic and environmental risk factors.

Original publication

DOI

10.1053/j.gastro.2021.07.026

Type

Journal article

Journal

Gastroenterology

Publication Date

11/2021

Volume

161

Pages

1526 - 1539.e9

Keywords

CXCL9, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, MMP10, Preclinical Disease, Proximity Extension Assay