Serum levels of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) - two factors known to promote tissue repair, fibroblast proliferation, and angiogenesis -were measured in Crohn's disease patients and correlated with bowel wall thickness (BWT), measured by conventional grey scale ultrasonography, and with the ileal intramural vessel flow, measured by contrast-enhanced color Doppler imaging. Serum samples were obtained from 25 patients with active Crohn's disease and 22 healthy volunteers, all sex- and age-matched. Serum bFGF and VEGF levels were measured by ELISA assay. All the patients were examined with conventional transabdominal bowel sonograpby. Color Doppler of the intramural enteric vessels was then performed after the intravenous injection of Levovist, a galactose-based sonographic contrast agent. In Crohn's disease patients, serum bFGF and VEGF were significantly higher compared with healthy volunteers. A positive correlation between serum bFGF and BWT and between serum VEGF and color Doppler signal intensity was found. The raised serum bFGF levels in Crohn's disease patients with intestinal strictures compared with patients with other phenotypes (fistulizing, inflammatory), together with the correlation observed between serum bFGF and BWT, suggests a possible involvement of bFGF in the process of transmural fibrogenesis in Crohn's disease. The higher levels of VEGF in those patients with increased intramural blood flow suggests that VEGF may be considered a marker of angiogenesis in this condition.
- Crohn's disease
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