In children younger than 2 years of age, a diagnosis of celiac disease (CD) is difficult to make because anti-endomysium (anti-EMA)/anti-tissue transglutaminase 2 (anti-TG2) antibodies are less sensitive than in older children. The aim of our study was to evaluate how many children younger than 2 years of age and diagnosed with CD, were negative for serum anti-TG2 antibodies and to test the hypothesis that in these patients, TG2-specific IgA deposits could instead be present at mucosal level.
A total of 104 children younger than 2 years of age and 179 children older than 2 years, all of whom had been diagnosed with CD, were investigated for serum CD-associated antibodies (anti-gliadin [AGA] IgA and IgG, EMA-IgA, anti-TG2–IgA). The presence of intestinal anti-TG2 extracellular IgA deposits was searched by using double immunofluorescence in 56 of the patients younger than 2 years of age and in 40 of those who were older than 2 years.
In children with CD who were younger than 2 years of age, high levels of AGA-IgA were found in 93/104 (89%) and 98/104 (94%) were found of have high levels of AGA-IgG. In children older than the age of 2 years with CD, 120/179 (67%) had high levels of AGA-IgA and 151/179 (84%) had high levels of AGA-IgG. Serum EMA were present in 92/104 (88%) in the younger group and in 176/179 (98%) of the older group. Ninety-one of 104 children (87%) younger and 172/179 (96%) older than 2 years showed high serum levels of anti-TG2. Finally, 41/56 (73%) children younger than 2 years and all of the 40 children (100%) older than 2 years of age showed mucosal anti-TG2–IgA deposits.
EMA and anti-TG2–antibody measurements show higher sensitivity for the diagnosis of CD in children older than 2 years compared with younger children. The search for mucosal deposits of anti-TG2–IgA does not improve the diagnostic performance.
Department of Pediatrics and European Laboratory for the Investigation of Food-Induced Diseases, University “Federico II,” Naples, Italy.
Received 26 November, 2008
Accepted 23 July, 2009
Address correspondence and reprint requests to Prof Riccardo Troncone, Department of Pediatrics and European Laboratory for the Investigation of Food-Induced Diseases, University “Federico II,” via S. Pansini 5, I-80131 Naples, Italy (e-mail: email@example.com).
This work was realized with grants from the Regional Network Project for Children and Adolescents Affected by Celiac Disease, Campania Region, Italy.
The authors report no conflicts of interest.