Celiac.com 09/25/2008 - Mucosal inflammation of the small intestine, coupled with damage to intestinal villi, is a classic indication of celiac disease. Recently, doctors have begun to embrace the idea that some patients with positive celiac blood tests may have mucosal lesions that are too small to appear on routine histopathological analysis.

In the first study of its kind, a team of researchers based in Ireland set out to analyze enterocyte morphology and cytoskeletal structures using a high content analysis technology.

The research team was made up of doctors Bashir M. Mohamed, Conleth Feighery, Yvonne Williams, Anthony Davies, Dermot Kelleher, Yuri Volkov, Jacinta Kelly and Mohamed Abuzakouk.

The team examined duodenal biopsies from 14 untreated and 10 treated celiac patients and from 20 non-celiac control subjects. They also investigated tissue sections from six study group subjects before and after the development of gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

The research team used an anti-α-tubulin antibody to conduct immunohistochemical studies on paraffin-embedded tissue sections. They found important differences in enterocyte morphology and intracellular cytoskeletal structures in the patients with proven celiac disease and those in the study group.

Moreover, the team observed that these changes existed in the study group prior to any indication of enteropathy, as determined by standard microscopy.

This is the first time researchers have used high content analysis to show specific details of enterocyte morphology. Such an approach permits doctors to quantitatively analyze enterocyte intracellular structure from standard biopsy samples and allows for detection of minute changes that develop before the classic histological lesion.

This process could become important for improving the diagnosis of celiac disease. If doctors can spot celiac-related intestinal lesions before they develop, they can begin to prevent celiac disease before it develops and thereby save lives.

Central European Journal of Biology
Volume 3, Number 3 / September, 2008

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