Refractory celiac disease (RCD) is a preneoplastic condition as many patients develop an enteropathy-type T-cell lymphoma, a mature T-cell receptor α-β lymphoma arising in the gut with an ominous outcome. Recently, research focused on a population of intraepithelial intestinal lymphocytes expressing the same lymphoma T-cell receptor variable region (V)γ, as shown by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and sequencing. Meanwhile, the Biomedicine and Health-2 Concerted Action has made available standardized, highly specific, and sensitive PCR assays not only for Vγ but also for Vβ.
We verified whether analyzing both rearrangements in duodenal biopsies from RCD patients increases the diagnostic accuracy of this method.
Duodenal biopsies were analyzed from 15 RCD patients, 21 negative controls, and 2 positive controls (enteropathy-type T-cell lymphoma complicating celiac disease). Multiplex clonality analyses were performed according to the Biomedicine and Health-2 protocols. PCR products were cloned and sequenced.
Monoclonal rearrangements were found in 5/15 samples from patients with RCD (both rearrangements in 2 cases, Vβ only in 2, and only 1 solitary Vγ clonality). Monoclonality was found in 4/8 of the RCD patients who subsequently died, whereas only 1/7 of the patients still alive presented a monoclonal rearrangement. Positive controls revealed both monoclonal rearrangements; rearrangements were not detected in 20 of 21 negative controls. Sequencing of the amplified fragments confirmed the results.
The combined analysis of both rearrangements allowed recognition of monoclonal populations in otherwise negative patients, with detection rates from 20% (Vγ only) to 33% (Vγ and Vβ), thus raising the likelihood of early identification of RCD patients at high risk of death.
*Coeliac Centre/First Department of Internal Medicine
†Department of Medical Oncology, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
This project was supported by a grant from Fondazione Celiachia “Studio di possibili fattori ambientali e sviluppo di nuove strategie terapeutiche nelle complicanze della malattia celiaca.”
The authors declare that they have nothing to disclose.
Reprints: Federico Biagi, MD, Coeliac Centre/First Department of Internal Medicine, Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, University of Pavia, P.le Golgi, 19, I-27100 Pavia, Italy (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received August 7, 2011
Accepted October 26, 2011