, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 693-699
Date: 04 Jul 2008

Tissue transglutaminase in celiac disease: role of autoantibodies

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In celiac disease (CD), gluten, the disease-inducing toxic component in wheat, induces the secretion of IgA-class autoantibodies which target tissue transglutaminase (tTG). These autoantibodies are produced in the small-intestinal mucosa, and, during gluten consumption, they can also be detected in patients’ serum but disappear slowly from the circulation on a gluten-free diet. Interestingly, after adoption of a gluten-free diet the serum autoantibodies disappear from the circulation more rapidly than the small-intestinal mucosal autoantibody deposits. The finding of IgA deposits on extracellular tTG in the liver, kidney, lymph nodes and muscles of patients with CD indicates that tTG is accessible to the gut-derived autoantibodies. Although the specific autoantibody response directed against tTG is very characteristic in celiac patients, their role in the immunopathology of the celiac mucosal lesion is a matter of debate. Here we report a brief summary of anti-tTG antibody effects demonstrating that these antibodies are functional and not mere bystanders in the disease pathogenesis. In fact, they inhibit intestinal epithelial cell differentiation, induce intestinal epithelial cell proliferation, increase epithelial permeability and activate monocytes and disturb angiogenesis.