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Human Fecal Mucin Glycosylation as a New Biomarker in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Catherine Robbe Masselot, Camille Cordier, PharmD, Benjamin Marsac, Maria Nachury, Renaud Léonard, Boualem Sendid

Published: 25 November 2022


For the first time, fecal mucins of Crohn’s disease patients were analyzed by mass spectrometry. Compared with control subjects, Crohn’s disease patients showed a significant decrease in sialylated glycans that we propose as new noninvasive tool for screening of intestinal diseases.


Currently, the accurate diagnosis of IBD is a challenge, and endoscopy remains the gold standard to discriminate between IBD and IBS. However, its invasive nature increases the risk of adverse events for the patient and has a significant impact on health costs. In the present study, we demonstrated that the glycosylation profile of fecal mucins showed specific features in active and quiescent CD, not found in IBS patients or HC subjects, suggesting that evaluation of mucin glycosylation in feces could become a new noninvasive tool for screening of intestinal diseases, without recourse to endoscopy.

Based on our previous findings in colorectal cancer and the fact that the tumor O-glycans identified were mainly sialylated core 1 or Thomsen-nouveau antigens, we assume that this new tool could also be used for the diagnosis, prognosis, or management of colorectal cancer.

Our data also highlight the need for a new classification of patients with CD, taking into account alterations in mucin glycosylation, potentially leading to the development of new treatments to improve the mucus barrier.

The limitations to our study include the small number of patients enrolled; thus, the results need to be confirmed in a larger prospective study. It would also be interesting to follow mucin glycosylation in CD patients and the impact of biological therapy on mucin barrier restoration longitudinally.


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