We previously investigated the prevalence of asymptomatic celiac disease in 3004 healthy children and 4313 adult blood donors by screening for IgA and IgG class antigliadin antibodies (AGA) and IgA class anti-endomysial antibodies (EmA). In none of the 162 exclusive AGA-positive adults and in only one of the 117 exclusive AGA-positive children could celiac disease be diagnosed. We followed up AGA-positive individuals in respect of the significance of the AGA.Methods
All AGA-positive children and adults were invited for a follow-up clinical examination and laboratory investigations including AGA-IgA, AGA-IgG and EmA. Celiac disease-specific antibodies were also determined in stool samples.Results
Sixty-nine adults and 47 children returned for follow-up. In 26 (37.7%) cases of the 69 adults formerly tested AGA-positive, AGA were still detectable after an average period of 3.7 years. In 21 (44.7%) cases of 47 formerly AGA-positive children, AGA were still detectable after an average period of 4.3 years. None of the 69 adults and 47 children showed seroconversion to EmA. There were no significant abnormalities in the laboratory results or any clinical signs of enteropathy.Results
The appearance of fecal and serum antibodies was compared in 112 subjects but no correlation between fecal and serum antigliadin antibodies was found.Conclusions
In both studied populations of adults and children, AGA disappeared in more than 50% of the cases. The appearance of AGA has to be interpreted as a non-specific immunomodulation phenomenon, confirming the low specificity of AGA as a serologic marker for celiac disease.