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Gastroenterology. 2010 Jul;139(1):112-9. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2010.04.007. Epub 2010 Apr 13.

Detection of celiac disease and lymphocytic enteropathy by parallel serology and histopathology in a population-based study.

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Department of Histopathology, Faculty of Medicine, St. Mary's Campus, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom.



Although serologic analysis is used in diagnosis of celiac disease, histopathology is considered most reliable. We performed a prospective study to determine the clinical, pathologic, and serologic spectrum of celiac disease in a general population (Kalixanda study).


A random sample of an adult general population (n = 1000) was analyzed by upper endoscopy, duodenal biopsy, and serologic analysis of tissue transglutaminase (tTg) levels; endomysial antibody (EMA) levels were analyzed in samples that were tTg+. The cut off values for diagnosis of celiac disease were villous atrophy with 40 intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs)/100 enterocytes (ECs).


Samples from 33 subjects were tTg+, and 16 were EMA+. Histologic analysis identified 7 of 1000 subjects (0.7%) with celiac disease; all were tTg+, and 6 of 7 were EMA+. Another 26 subjects were tTg+ (7/26 EMA+). This was addressed by a second quantitative pathology study (nested case control design) using a threshold of 25 IELS/100 ECs. In this analysis, all 13 samples that were tTg+ and EMA+ had > or =25 IELs/100 ECs. In total, 16 subjects (1.6%) had serologic and histologic evidence of gluten-sensitive enteropathy. IELs were quantified in duodenal biopsy samples from seronegative individuals (n = 500); 19 (3.8%) had >25 IELs and lymphocytic duodenosis.


Measurement of > or =25 IELs/100 ECs correlated with serologic indicators of celiac disease; a higher IEL threshold could miss 50% of cases. Quantification of tTg is a sensitive test for celiac disease; diagnosis can be confirmed by observation of > or =25 IELs/100ECs in duodenal biopsy specimens. Lymphocytic enteropathy (celiac disease and lymphocytic duodenosis) is common in the population (5.4%).

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