The faecal scent of inflammatory bowel disease: Detection and monitoring based on volatile organic compound analysis

Sofie Bosch, Dion S.J. Wintjens, Alfian Wicaksono, Johan Kuijvenhoven, René van der Hulst, Pieter Stokkers, Emma Daulton, Marieke J. Pierik, James A. Covington, Tim G.J. de Meij, Nanne K.H. de Boer

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Background: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is diagnosed and monitored using endoscopic assessment, which is invasive and costly. In this study, potential of faecal volatile organic compounds (VOC) analysis for IBD detection and identification of disease activity was evaluated. Methods: IBD patients visiting outpatient clinics of participating tertiary hospitals were included. Active disease was defined as FCP ≥250 mg/g, remission as FCP <100 mg/g with Harvey Bradshaw Index <4 for Crohn's disease (CD) or Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index <3 for ulcerative colitis (UC). Healthy controls (HC) were patients without mucosal abnormalities during colonoscopy. Faecal samples were measured using gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry. Results: A total of 280 IBD patients collected 107 CDa, 84 CDr, 80 UCa and 63 UCr samples. Additionally, 227 HC provided one faecal sample. UC and CD were discriminated from HC with high accuracy (AUC (95%CI): UCa vs HC 0.96(0.94-0.99); UCr vs HC 0.95(0.93-0.98); CDa vs HC 0.96(0.94-0.99); CDr vs HC 0.95(0.93-0.98)). There were small differences between UC and CD (0.55(0.50-0.6)) and no differences between active disease and remission (UCa vs UCr 0.63(0.44-0.82); CDa vs CDr 0.52(0.39-0.65)). Conclusion: Our study outcomes imply that faecal VOC analysis holds potential for identifying biomarkers for IBD detection but not for monitoring disease activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-752
Number of pages8
JournalDigestive and liver disease
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


  • Faecal volatile organic compounds
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Non-invasive biomarkers

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