To evaluate and compare the sensitivity and specificity of the new serologic marker human antitissue transglutaminase antibodies (IgA anti-tTG) with those of antiendomysium (IgA EMA) and antigliadin antibodies (IgA and IgG AGA) for the diagnosis of celiac disease (CD).
The level of IgA antibodies to tTG in serum was determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test using recombinant human tTG as the antigen; IgA EMA, by indirect immunofluorescence; and IgA and IgG AGA, by ELISA. Sixty-eight serum samples from 59 patients with CD were studied—30 patients had untreated CD, 22 were on gluten-free diets, and 16 had been reintroduced to gluten—and compared with serum samples from 116 children examined for failure to thrive, short stature, various digestive diseases, or other non-CD conditions.
Twenty-eight of 30 patients with CD had anti-tTG (the 2 patients whose results were negative were 1 patient with IgA deficiency and 1 infant); 27 of 30 patients had IgA EMA (1 child was IgA anti-tTG positive and IgA EMA negative); 18 of 30 had IgA AGA; and 28 of 30 had IgG AGA. On gluten-free diets, 4 of 22 patients had anti-tTG but none had IgA EMA or IgA AGA. On normal diets, 15 of 15 children who had relapsed had anti-tTG; 9, IgA EMA; 4, IgA AGA; and 8, IgG AGA (1 child did not relapse). In subjects without CD, 3 of 116 had anti-tTG; 12, IgG AGA; and 1, IgA AGA, but none had IgA EMA. In the 3 children who had anti-tTG, CD could be excluded. The positive predictive value of IgA anti-tTG was 90% and the negative predictive value, 98%. In comparison, results for IgA EMA were 100% and 97%, IgA AGA 94% and 90%, and IgG AGA 70% and 98%, respectively.
The presence of human anti-tTG is a reliable indicator for the diagnosis and follow-up of CD.