Nailfold Capillaroscopy as a Biomarker in the Evaluation of Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Jacob A. Kurowski*, Sonal R. Patel, Joshua B. Wechsler, Marisa R. Izaguirre, Gabrielle A. Morgan, Lauren M. Pachman, Jeffrey B. Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Noninvasive screening and disease monitoring are an unmet need in pediatric inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Nailfold capillaroscopy (NFC) is a validated technique for microvascular surveillance in rheumatologic diseases. NFC uses magnified photography to examine nail bed capillaries called end row loops (ERL). We aimed to identify variations in NFC in pediatric IBD patients and their associations with disease activity. Methods: Pediatric patients with Crohn's disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) and healthy controls were recruited. NFC was performed on patients with newly diagnosed IBD prior to initiating therapy, patients with established IBD, and controls. ERLs were quantified along with a 3mm distance on 8 nailfolds. Serum biomarker levels of disease activity and symptoms activity indexes were correlated with average ERL density digits on both hands. Statistics were performed using chi-squared, ANOVA, and linear regression. Results: Fifty-one IBD patients and 16 controls were recruited. ERL density was significantly decreased in IBD (Control: 19.2 ERL/3mm vs UC: 15.6 ERL/3mm vs CD: 15.4 ERL/3mm; P <. 0001). ERL density was lower in UC patients with lower albumin levels (P =. 02, r2 = 0.29).The change in ERL density over time predicted the change in pediatric CD activity index among CD patients (P =. 048, r2 = 0.58) with treatment. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate ERL density is reduced in IBD compared to controls. Lower albumin levels correlated with lower ERL density in UC. In newly diagnosed CD, ERL density increases over time as disease activity improves with therapy. NFC may be a feasible biomarker of disease activity and utilized for monitoring IBD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCrohn's and Colitis 360
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • biomarker
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • nailfold capillaroscopy
  • pediatric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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