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Clin Exp Immunol. 2010 Feb;159(2):217-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2009.04054.x. Epub 2009 Nov 12.

Anti-transglutaminase antibodies in non-coeliac children suffering from infectious diseases.

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Department of Reproductive and Development Science, University of Trieste, and Children Hospital IRCCS 'Burlo Garofolo' Trieste, Italy.


Anti-transglutaminase antibodies are the diagnostic markers of coeliac disease. A role is suggested for infectious agents in the production of anti-transglutaminase antibodies. The aim was to measure positive anti-transglutaminase antibody levels in children with infectious diseases and to compare immunological and biological characteristics of the anti-transglutaminase antibodies derived from these children with that from coeliac patients. Two hundred and twenty-two children suffering from infectious diseases were enrolled prospectively along with seven biopsy-proven coeliacs. Serum samples were tested for anti-transglutaminase antibodies and anti-endomysium antibodies; positive samples were tested for coeliac-related human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2/8 and anti-viral antibodies. Purified anti-transglutaminase antibodies from the two study groups were tested for urea-dependent avidity, and their ability to induce cytoskeletal rearrangement and to modulate cell-cycle in Caco-2 cells, using phalloidin staining and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation assays, respectively. Nine of 222 children (4%) tested positive to anti-transglutaminase, one of whom also tested positive for anti-endomysium antibodies. This patient was positive for HLA-DQ2 and was diagnosed as coeliac following intestinal biopsy. Of the eight remaining children, two were positive for HLA-DQ8. Levels of anti-transglutaminase returned to normal in all subjects, despite a gluten-containing diet. Purified anti-transglutaminase of the two study groups induced actin rearrangements and cell-cycle progression. During an infectious disease, anti-transglutaminase antibodies can be produced temporarily and independently of gluten. The infection-triggered anti-transglutaminase antibodies have the same biological properties as that of the coeliacs, with the same in-vivo potential for damage.

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