Prevalence and clinical significance of IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies in patients with chronic liver disease

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Background and Aim:

Celiac disease is a multi-systemic disease, which can affect any organ system including liver. However, the prevalence of celiac disease and the sensitivity and specificity of anti-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG) in diagnosing celiac disease in patients with cirrhosis of liver is not well established.


We screened a cohort of patients with chronic liver disease for an associated diagnosis of celiac disease. Anti-tTG was carried out in all patients, and those with a high value were subjected to duodenal biopsy for histological confirmation. In patients where biopsy was contraindicated or refused, anti-endomysial antibody (anti-EMA) was tested.


Of a total of 595 patients with chronic liver disease, high levels of anti-tTG were noted in 150 (25.2%) patients, and celiac disease was diagnosed in 14 patients (2.4%). Celiac autoimmunity (high levels of both anti-tTG and anti-EMA) was noted in seven patients (1.2%).


Although a large number of cirrhotic patients have high levels of anti-tTG, duodenal histology and/or anti-EMA is normal in majority of these patients. This suggests high false positivity of anti-tTG in patients with cirrhosis and highlights the need of duodenal biopsy for histological confirmation of the diagnosis of celiac disease.

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