AIMS: To assess the relation of plasma viscosity to disease activity in patients with inflammatory bowel disease. METHODS: Crohn's disease (n = 60) and ulcerative colitis (n = 71) were diagnosed on the basis of typical histological or radiological features. Active Crohn's disease was defined as a Crohn's disease activity index of 150 or over. Active ulcerative colitis was defined as a liquid stool passed three times a day or more with blood. Blood samples were assessed for haemoglobin concentration, total white cell count, platelets, plasma viscosity, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, serum albumin, and C-reactive protein. RESULTS: Plasma viscosity was higher in those with active Crohn's disease compared with those with inactive Crohn's disease or active ulcerative colitis. Plasma viscosity correlated significantly with erythrocyte sedimentation rate, C-reactive protein, and platelet count in patients with Crohn's disease. In ulcerative colitis plasma viscosity correlated only with serum C-reactive protein. Plasma viscosity showed a low sensitivity for detecting active Crohn's disease, with 48% of those with active disease having a plasma viscosity within the laboratory reference range. CONCLUSIONS: Plasma viscosity is related to disease activity in Crohn's disease, but is insufficiently sensitive for it to replace erythrocyte sedimentation rate as a measure of the acute phase response in Crohn's disease.
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