HLA genotyping as first-line screening tool for coeliac disease in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis

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Abstract

Objectives

Coeliac disease (CD) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) often coexist. This association warrants assessment for CD in patients with JIA. We evaluated the clinical relevance and cost-effectiveness of human leucocyte antigen (HLA) genotyping in first-line screening for development of CD in children with JIA.

Patients and interventions

95 patients with JIA were screened for CD using CD-specific antibodies. In case of positivity, a small intestinal biopsy was performed to confirm diagnosis. In addition, HLA genotyping was performed. 110 age-matched and sex-matched Caucasian children from the same geographical area served as controls.

Results

CD was diagnosed in 4 of 95 patients with JIA (4.2%), a rate significantly higher compared with controls (p<0.02) and 14 times higher than in the general population. Twenty-six patients (27.4%) had one of the variants of the risk genotypes. All four patients diagnosed with CD had a HLA-DQ2.5 genotype: one was homozygote, the remainder heterozygote. Twenty-two patients are, judging by their HLA genotypes, at risk of developing CD and require repeated serological screening. None of the 69 patients without HLA-DQ2/DQ8 genotypes had CD-specific antibodies. Screening with HLA genotyping becomes cheaper than screening without after the second determination.

Conclusions

In our cohort of patients with JIA, lack of HLA-DQ2/DQ8 genotypes identified a majority not at risk of CD in whom repeated serological testing is unnecessary. Genotyping is nowadays the most efficient and cost-effective way to screen for CD risk in JIA.

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