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Dig Liver Dis. 2004 Oct;36(10):671-6.

Anti-human versus anti-guinea pig tissue transglutaminase antibodies as the first-level serological screening test for coeliac disease in the general population.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Ancona, Via F. Corridoni no. 11, 60123 Ancona, Italy.



So far the reliability of the anti-guinea pig and anti-human tissue transglutaminase antibodies for the coeliac disease diagnosis has been evaluated in selected groups of patients.


To compare the diagnostic accuracy of anti-human versus anti-guinea pig tissue transglutaminase in the coeliac disease screening of the general population.


Two healthy Italian populations living in Marche region and in Western Sardinia.


Both anti-guinea pig and anti-human tissue transglutaminase were determined using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay-based commercially available kit (Eu-tTG, Eurospital, Trieste, Italy).


During the period 1999-2001, 3541 subjects (1500 from "continental" Italy and 2041 from Sardinia) were screened for coeliac disease using both anti-guinea pig and anti-human tissue transglutaminase as first-level tests. Both these tests were negative in 3439/3541 sera, while 29 resulted positive for both of them and 73 showed discordant results. Overall, 50 intestinal biopsies were performed in 22, 21 and 7 subjects with positivity to both screening tests, to anti-guinea pig and to anti-human tissue transglutaminase alone, respectively. A coeliac disease diagnosis was made in 25 subjects giving an overall prevalence of 1:126 individuals. The anti-tissue transglutaminase specificity and sensitivity were 98 and 92% for guinea pig and 99.6 and 96% for human tissue transglutaminase, respectively.


The anti-human tissue transglutaminase test should definitely replace the anti-guinea pig-derived one as first-level screening tool for identifying all subjects who need the second-level investigations (small intestinal biopsy).

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