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This article is part of the supplement: Gastroprotective NSAIDS

Open Badges Review

Endoscopic ulcers as a surrogate marker of NSAID-induced mucosal damage

R Andrew Moore

Author Affiliations

Pain Research, Nuffield Division of Anaesthetics, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Oxford, The Churchill, Oxford OX3 7LE, UK

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15(Suppl 3):S4  doi:10.1186/ar4176

Published: 24 July 2013


The characteristic of a biomarker that makes it a useful surrogate is the ability to identify a high risk of clinically important benefits or harms occurring in the future. A number of definitions or descriptions of surrogate definition have been put forward. Most recently the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in the USA has put forward an evaluation scheme for biomarkers, looking at validation (assay performance), qualification (assessment of evidence), and utilisation (the context in which the surrogate is to be used). This paper examines the example of endoscopy as a surrogate marker of NSAID-induced mucosal damage using the Institute of Medicine criteria. The article finds extensive evidence that the detection of endoscopic ulcers is a valid marker. The process of qualification documents abundant evidence showing that endoscopic ulcers and serious upper gastrointestinal damage are influenced in the same direction and much the same magnitude by a variety of risk factors and interventions. Criticisms of validation and qualification for endoscopic ulcers have been examined, and dismissed. Context is the key, and in the context of serious NSAID-induced upper gastrointestinal harm, endoscopic ulcers represent a useful surrogate. Generalisability beyond this context is not considered.