Diagnosis of celiac disease
- Cite this article as:
- Bhatnagar, S. & Tandon, N. Indian J Pediatr (2006) 73: 703. doi:10.1007/BF02898449
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Celiac disease is an immune mediated enteropathy initiated by ingestion of gluten, in genetically susceptible individuals. With changing epidemiology, celiac disease initially thought to affect only Europeans, has been increasingly reported from other parts of the world including India. However, its true prevalence in India is still not known, as the diagnosis is being missed. The gold standards for diagnosis have been characteristic small intestinal mucosal changes on gluten and a full clinical remission on its removal from the diet. Presence of serological antibodies, which disappear on gluten free diet further confirms the diagnosis. The understanding of the histopathology of celiac disease has changed over the years. The small bowel mucosal lesion of celiac disease is an evolutionary process with normal mucosal architecture and an increase in intraepithelial lymphocytes at one end of the spectrum and classical flat mucosa at the other. In the Indian subcontinent celiac disease has a heterogeneous histological presentation and the diagnosis may be missed if it is based only on severe mucosal changes or the serology is not considered when moderate or mild mucosal changes are present. The last two decades have shown that antiendomysical (Anti EMA) and anti tissue transglutaminase antibodies (anti-tTGA) have a sensitivity and specificity of more than 95% to diagnose celiac disease. Anti EMA tests being operator dependent are more liable to errors and anti- tTGA may be preferred for large scale screening. However, the different source of tTGA antigen, varied techniques of production and the use of arbitrary units by different commercial kits can influence the diagnostic accuracy of the anti-tTGA assay. There is a strong genetic association of celiac disease with HLA-DQ2 or DQ8. The presence of HLA-DQ2 hetrodimer in more than 97% of a group of North Indian patients with celiac disease indicates that this population has a similar genetic risk for the disease. HLA DQ2 typing can be used for ruling out celiac disease where the diagnosis is equivocal as it has a negative predictive value of greater than 95%. Given the protean clinical manifestation and the heterogeneous histology a standard algorithm for diagnosis of celiac disease is important.