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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Is the Multiplex Immunoassay (MIA) the Best Test for Diagnosing Celiac Disease?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 10/16/2008 - When faced with possible cases of celiac disease, it is known that testing for tissue transglutaminase (TTG) antibodies and newly developed deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies offers greater accuracy than testing for native gliadin antibodies. But what is the best overall test for TTG and DGP?

    A research team recently set out to compare multiplex immunoassay (MIA) testing for antibodies against enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) testing for antibodies in biopsy-proven celiac patients and control subjects, and to determine the helpfulness of using the two tests in combination for making diagnosis of celiac disease.

    The research team was made up of doctors S. Rashtak, M. W. Ettore, H. A. Homburger & J. A. Murray. Doctors Rashtak and Murray are with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

    The team compared sensitivity, specificity and accuracy of MIA and ELISA testing methods for TTG and DGP antibodies in 92 adults with untreated celiac disease, and 124 healthy control subjects. For every test, except TTG IgG, the results showed strong agreement and a significant correlation between the results of MIA and ELISA methods (j > 0.8, r > 0.7). For TTG IgG, both showed low sensitivity (MIA-13.0% vs. ELISA-28.3%), high specificity (MIA-100.0% vs. ELISA-96.8%), and about the same levels of overall accuracy (MIA-63.0% vs. ELISA-67.6%).

    They found no significant differences between diagnosis accuracy made using the MIA method compared to diagnosis made using ELISA, or between either of those against a combination of the two methods.

    Compared to using either test alone, using both tests together made for a slight increase in overall test sensitivity where any one of the tests was positive, and an increase in specificity when all tests were positive.

    The team determined that MIA testing for antibodies is as accurate as ELISA for celiac disease diagnosis and offers practical advantages over ELISA method. MIA testing measures multiple antibodies simultaneously, provides a complete antibody phenotype, and offers a quicker turnaround time and lower cost. They further noted that carefully targeted combination testing can help identify patients who require intestinal biopsy, which may reduce unnecessary biopsies.

    Aliment Pharmacol Ther 28, 805–813


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    Good information, but I personally see no reason to take any tests for gluten sensitivity, except for people who may be symptomless, but high risk. I suggest that anyone with any symptoms that could be gluten-related simply try a gluten-free diet like I did. I cannot tell you if I am Celiac or which tests, if any, would come up positive for me. What I can tell you is that I have a severe gluten intolerance/allergy. That's all I need to know. Unless, of course, someone comes up with a cure.

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    Not exactly sure what all this means! Yet, I too don't see why a test has to prove or disprove whether or not you are Celiac. My blood test came back negative - so therefor I don't have celiac disease, according to the doctors. Yet, I too cannot eat gluten or milk. I refuse to have the biopsy because I just cannot tolerate even one episode of getting any hidden amounts of gluten. Can't that be enough to diagnose it?

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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