OBJECTIVE:

Celiac disease (CD) is characterized by histologic alterations in small bowel biopsies. Circulating specific CD antibodies at the time of diagnosis and their disappearance after a gluten-free diet support the diagnosis of CD. We aimed to determine the behavior of the CD antibodies immunoglobulin A anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-TG2) and immunoglobulin A endomysium (EMA) in children with CD after starting a gluten-free diet.

METHODS:

This was a retrospective multicenter study in the Netherlands between 2001 and 2009. Inclusion criteria were all newly diagnosed patients with CD younger than 19 years who had at least 1 anti-TG2 and/or EMA measurement before and after starting a gluten-free diet. Eight different anti-TG2 kits were used with substrates of guinea pig TG2 in 1 (Sigma) and 7 human-recombinant TG2: Varelisa and EliA Celikey Phadia-GmbH; Orgentec Diagnostica-GmbH; Diarect AG; Roboscreen GmbH; Aeskulisa Diagnostics; Binding Site Ltd. EMA was analyzed with indirect immunofluorescence tests. Statistical analyses were performed by using mixed-model repeated measurements and survival analysis.

RESULTS:

There were 129 children with CD included (mean age: 5.6 years; SD ± 4.2). The mean concentration of anti-TG2 decreased significantly within 3 months after starting a gluten-free diet (P < .0001). The cumulative percentage of children who became negative for EMA after ½, 1, 1½, and 2 years was 31%, 60%, 74%, and 87%, respectively. For anti-TG2, a comparable trend was shown: 35%, 55%, 64%, and 78%, respectively.

CONCLUSIONS:

Doctors taking care of children with CD should be aware that the mean concentration of anti-TG2 will show a 74% decrease (95% confidence interval: 69%–79%) after 3 months of gluten-free diet, and ∼80% of the children will be sero-negative for EMA and anti-TG2 after 2 years of the diet.

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