Extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling is a hallmark of the pathology of gastrointestinal disorders. Collagen type VI (COL6) is produced by fibroblasts, and the COL6 α3-chain has shown to be elevated in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), Crohn's disease (CD) and colorectal cancer (CRC). Measuring COL6α3 in serum may therefore have potential as a biomarker for gastrointestinal disorders. The aims of this study were to develop and validate a competitive ELISA targeting a specific neo-epitope of COL6α3 and evaluate its associations with the gastrointestinal disorders UC, CD and CRC, in comparison to healthy controls. A monoclonal antibody was raised against a matrix metalloproteinase-2 and -9 specific cleavage site of COL6α3 (C6Mα3) and employed in a competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The assay was developed and technically validated. Levels of C6Mα3 were measured in serum from patients with UC (n = 58), CD (n = 44) and CRC (n = 39) and compared to healthy controls (n = 32). The levels of C6Mα3 were elevated in patients with UC, CD and CRC patients compared to healthy controls (all p < 0.0001). The area under the receiver operating characteristics (AUROC) curve for separation of patients with UC from healthy controls was 0.972 (95% CI: 0.925-1.020, p < 0.0001), with CD from healthy controls was 0.947 (95% CI: 0.885-1.009, p < 0.0001) and with CRC from healthy controls was 0.890 (95% CI: 0.809-0.972, p < 0.0001). We developed a technically robust assay targeting a fragment of COL6, which was elevated in serum from patients with UC, CD and CRC.
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