Breakthrough in intestinal research: Blood test could cut diagnosis time for children and adolcescents with IBD

Marte Lie Høivik
Marte Lie Høivik

A simple blood test shows whether stomach problems in children and teenagers are likely to be inflammatory bowel disease, as shown in the study results published in the highly-ranked journal Nature Communications.
More and more children in Norway are struggling with stomach and intestinal problems. The symptoms are often not very specific - which makes it difficult to set the correct diagnosis quickly. Norwegian and Swedish researchers are now developing a blood test that measures two fatty substances in the blood to distinguish those children where there is a high probability that the problems are due to an inflammatory bowel disease.

Marte Lie Høivik, professor at the University of Oslo and consultant at Oslo University Hospital, is shared senior author on the new study, which included children from the IBSEN III study. The study has received wide media attention, and has been covered by several major Norwegian news outlets.

The prevalence of inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, among children and young people up to the age of 18 has increased – and continues to increase. In Norway it is estimated that around 50,000 people live with some form of IBD.

“Making a correct diagnosis often takes time – for several reasons. One is that the symptoms are often very nonspecific and can come from many diseases in the stomach and intestines. Stool-based tests are quite good, but the problem here is that many young people find it repulsive,” says Marte Lie Høivik and the Swedish head of the project Jonas Halfvarson form Ørebro University.

This unpleasantness means that some young people hesitate to undergo the test. A comprehensive examination of the intestine or colonoscopy is required upon suspected IBD.

“Many patients are reluctant to undergo a colonoscopy. Add to that lengthy queues and long waiting times. The lack of resources makes it even more important to select those who really need the examination to avoid unnecessary procedures,” says Marte Lie Høivik.

There are good reasons to find a simpler test – such as a blood test – to detect IBD.

In addition to professor Jonas Halfvarson, Tuulia Hyötyläinen and Samira Salihovic are other Örebro researchers who contributed to the study now published in Nature Communications. Tuulia Hyötyläinen, professor of chemistry, specialises in metabolomics, which, among other things, identifies biomarkers for diseases. Samira Salihovic is an assistant professor of chemistry and researches metabolomics.


Norwegian media outlets:

Stadig flere barn sliter med mage- og tarmproblemer – nå kan en enkel blodprøve gi raskere svar ( - Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation)

Blodprøve kan gi raskere diagnose for barn og ungdom med tarmsykdommen IBD (

Blodprøve kan forkorte tid til diagnose for barn og ungdom med IBD (

The Nature Communications article:
Salihovic S, Nyström N, Mathisen CB, Kruse R, Olbjørn C, Andersen S, Noble AJ, Dorn-Rasmussen M, Bazov I, Perminow G, Opheim R, Detlie TE, Huppertz-Hauss G, Hedin CRH, Carlson M, Öhman L, Magnusson MK, Keita ÅV, Söderholm JD, D'Amato M, Orešič M, Wewer V, Satsangi J, Lindqvist CM, Burisch J et al. (2024)
Identification and validation of a blood- based diagnostic lipidomic signature of pediatric inflammatory bowel disease
Nat Commun, 15 (1), 4567
DOI 10.1038/s41467-024-48763-7, PubMed 38830848

Inflammatory bowel disease research group (, headed by Marte Lie Høivik

IBSEN III - Inflammatory Bowel Disease in South Eastern Norway - Institute of Clinical Medicine (

Department of Gastroenterology (

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