Celiac disease antibody levels reflect duodenal mucosal damage but not clinical symptoms

Aki J. Käräjämäki, Juha Taavela, Christian Nielsen, Mårten Lönnqvist, Marcus Svartbäck, Katri Kaukinen, Risto Tertti

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    Objectives: This study aimed to investigate, in a real-world population, whether the histological and clinical phenotype differ at baseline and during follow-up in patients with high and low CD (celiac disease) antibody titers. Materials and methods: The study cohort consisted of 96 consecutive patients diagnosed to have CD during the years 2010–2018. The clinical parameters, symptoms and laboratory results were registered and histomorphometry was analyzed from the available duodenal biopsies taken during the primary and follow-up esophageal-gastricduodenoscopies. Patients having immunoglobulin A transglutaminase antibody (tTG-ab) levels above 70 U/mL were classified as high titer patients. Results: Measured by the villous-crypt ratio, the duodenal mucosa was more severely damaged in the high tTG-ab group than in the low tTG-group at baseline (n = 70, 0.61 ± 0.63 vs. 1.02 ± 0.87, p =.003) and during the follow-up when the patients were on gluten-free diet (n = 27, 1.80 ± 0.72 vs. 2.35 ± 0.64, p =.041). Interestingly, the high tTG-ab group members had fewer gastrointestinal symptoms at baseline than those in the low tTG-ab group (43% vs. 68%, p =.013) but lower vitamin D levels (68 ± 34 nmol/L vs. 88 ± 29 nmol/L, p =.034) and more often microcytosis (28% vs. 10%, p =.040). During the follow-up, these differences were no longer detected. Conclusions: At baseline, CD patients with high tTG-ab have more severe duodenum injury and signs of malabsorption but fewer symptoms. After gluten-free diet has been initiated, the mucosal healing in the high tTG-ab group is prolonged, but symptoms and signs of malabsorption recover equally in both groups.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)514-519
    JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
    Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • anemia
    • Celiac disease
    • gastrointestinal symptoms
    • histomorphometry
    • malabsorption
    • tissue transglutaminase antibody

    Publication forum classification

    • Publication forum level 1

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Gastroenterology


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