From bench to bedside: molecular imaging in inflammatory bowel diseases

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Purpose of review

Standard structural imaging procedures such as endoscopy, ultrasonography, or MRI are an integral part of the rational management of patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs). There is nevertheless the need for further refined imaging approaches that are able to overcome the limitations of currently used formats. The advent of molecular imaging modalities that allow real-time visualization of cellular processes not only in the preclinical setting but also in clinical trials has demonstrated its ability to improve current therapeutic strategies. The purpose of this review is to present and discuss advancements in the field of molecular imaging approaches in the IBD field.

Recent findings

Recent preclinical and clinical studies have addressed the applicability of molecular imaging for improving the differentiation between benign and malignant mucosal alterations, increasing the detection of dysplastic intestinal lesions, and predicting individual responses to biological therapies.


Molecular imaging in IBD represents an exciting and evolving field that has the potential to impact on current diagnostic and therapeutic algorithms in the treatment of IBD patients by analyzing and visualizing the molecular mechanisms that drive mucosal inflammation. It might enable us to base individualized therapeutic decisions on preceded molecular level analysis by suitable imaging modalities.

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