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Diabetes. 2009 Jul;58(7):1578-84. doi: 10.2337/db08-0962. Epub 2009 Apr 28.

Majority of children with type 1 diabetes produce and deposit anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies in the small intestine.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics and European Laboratory for the Investigation of Food-Induced Diseases, University Federico II, Naples, Italy.



Anti-tissue transglutaminase (TG2) antibodies are the serological marker of celiac disease. Given the close association between celiac disease and type 1 diabetes, we investigated the production and deposition of anti-TG2 antibodies in the jejunal mucosa of type 1 diabetic children.


Intestinal biopsies were performed in 33 type 1 diabetic patients with a normal mucosal architecture: 14 had high levels (potential celiac disease patients) and 19 had normal levels of serum anti-TG2 antibodies. All biopsy specimens were investigated for intestinal deposits of IgA anti-TG2 antibodies by double immunofluorescence. In addition, an antibody analysis using the phage display technique was performed on the intestinal biopsy specimens from seven type 1 diabetic patients, of whom four had elevated and three had normal levels of serum anti-TG2 antibodies.


Immunofluorescence studies showed that 11 of 14 type 1 diabetic children with elevated levels and 11 of 19 with normal serum levels of anti-TG2 antibodies presented with mucosal deposits of such autoantibodies. The phage display analysis technique confirmed the intestinal production of the anti-TG2 antibodies; however, whereas the serum-positive type 1 diabetic patients showed a preferential use of the VH5 antibody gene family, in the serum-negative patients the anti-TG2 antibodies belonged to the VH1 and VH3 families, with a preferential use of the latter.


Our findings demonstrate that there is intestinal production and deposition of anti-TG2 antibodies in the jejunal mucosa of the majority of type 1 diabetic patients. However, only those with elevated serum levels of anti-TG2 antibodies showed the VH usage that is typical of the anti-TG2 antibodies that are produced in patients with celiac disease.

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