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Lactoferrin, Quantitative, Stool

Lactoferrin, Quantitative, Stool

Test Highlight

Lactoferrin, Quantitative, Stool


Clinical Use

  • Rule out irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in patients presenting with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) symptoms

Clinical Background

An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from IBS, a disorder characterized by crampy abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and/or diarrhea. The same clinical picture may be seen in individuals with ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn’s disease (CD). Collectively known as IBD, UC and CD affect more than 1 million Americans. Although individuals with IBS may experience severe discomfort and require symptomatic treatment, patients with IBD may develop rectal bleeding and permanent intestinal damage. Furthermore, patients with IBD frequently require long-term steroid therapy and immunosuppressive agents. Consequently, distinguishing IBS from IBD is critical for patient management.

In patients with active IBD, lactoferrin, a proven marker of inflammation, is released from leukocytes infiltrating the intestinal mucosa. Whereas fecal lactoferrin tends to be elevated in patients with active IBD, it is minimally present in patients with IBS. In the stool of patients presenting with symptoms of IBD, lactoferrin is 86% sensitive and 100% specific in distinguishing IBD from IBS, thus making fecal lactoferrin an important diagnostic tool (Am J Gastroenterol. 2003;98:1309-1314).

The evaluation of fecal lactoferrin offers a safe, non-invasive, accurate method to quickly differentiate IBD from IBS once infectious causes of intestinal inflammation and colorectal cancer are ruled out. A positive fecal lactoferrin result can be complemented by the Quest Diagnostics Inflammatory Bowel Disease Differentiation Panel (separate order code) to assist in distinguishing UC from CD.


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)

Interpretive Information

A negative or normal test result is consistent with a noninflammatory disease such as IBS. A positive or elevated result indicates the presence of intestinal inflammation; such inflammation is consistent with IBD.


Content reviewed 12/2012

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