Celiac.com 04/06/2012 - The first step in diagnosing celiac is serological testing, looking for the presence of anti-tTg antibodies. But in adults at least a duodenal biopsy is still the gold standard of diagnosis, partially because of the risk of false positive anti-tTg results. Yet serum anti-tTg levels positively correlate with the severity of small intestinal histopathology. This prompted researchers in Italy to wonder if those patients with the highest ant-tTg levels could be spared an endoscopy, and if so, how high their anti-tTg levels had to be. They conclude, in their words, that "tissue-transglutaminase antibody level 5-folds the upper limit of normal is 100% specific for duodenal atrophy and using this cut-off biopsy could by avoided in 1/3 of patients. Diagnostic criteria of celiac disease in adults need revision."
The use of serological results alone had previously been suggested as diagnostic guidelines for children, but these authors suggest that many adults could be spared an endoscopy as well. They also note this strategy is already being implemented in primary care, with people adopting a gluten free diet solely on the basis of blood work; this study is valuable in that it validates that approach.
- Zanini B, Magni A, Caselani F, Lanzarotto F, Carabellese N, Villanacci V, Ricci C, Lanzini A. High tissue-transglutaminase antibody level predicts small intestinal villous atrophy in adult patients at high risk of celiac disease. Dig Liver Dis. 2012 Apr; 44(4):280-5. Epub 2011 Nov 25.