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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2002 Jan;34(1):31-4.

Antitissue transglutaminase antibodies outside celiac disease.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Biotechnologies, Second Pediatric Clinic, Cagliari University, Cagliari, Italy.



Tissue transglutaminase enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (tTG-ELISA) has recently been proposed as a simple and fast screening test for celiac disease (CD). The rate of false-positive and false-negative tests with tTG-ELISA, however, has not been definitively established. Therefore, the aim of our study was to investigate anti-tTG antibodies (TGA) not only in untreated patients with CD and in healthy controls, but also in a large group of patients with other autoimmune diseases.


The presence of TGA was investigated in sera from 111 patients with untreated CD, 96 patients with other autoimmune conditions (28 with autoimmune liver disease, 46 with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, 10 with inflammatory bowel syndrome, 12 with type 1 polyglandular syndrome) and from 100 healthy controls using guinea pig tTG-ELISA (gp-TG/ELISA) and highly purified recombinant human tTG-ELISA (h-TG/ELISA). Western blotting with guinea pig tTG was also performed.


Ninety-four patients with CD who tested positive for antiendomysial antibodies (AEA) and one who tested negative for AEA showed antibodies against the gp-TG. Among the controls, 50% of patients with autoimmune liver disease and 6.5% of patients with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus tested positive with gp-TG/ELISA. Western blotting experiments revealed that the high rate of positive tests observed using ELISA among the control group sera is attributable to impurities in the gp-TG preparation. However, h-TG/ELISA tests were positive for the sera from all patients who tested positive for AEA and from one control who tested negative for AEA, whereas h-TG/ELISA tests were negative for all CD patients who tested negative for AEA and for other controls who tested negative for AEA.


The frequency of false-negative and false-positive tests represents the major limit to the use of gp-tTG/ELISA. However, because h-TG/ELISA is both simple and fast, it could be used in large screening programs for CD.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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