Repeated Screening Can Be Restricted to At-Genetic-Risk Birth Cohorts

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Celiac disease (CD) is associated with tissue transglutaminase autoantibodies (tTGAs) in individuals carrying the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) risk haplotypes DQA1*05:01-DQB1*02:01 (DQ2) and/or DQA1*03:01-DQB1*03:02 (DQ8). The aim of the study was to identify CD in an HLA-genotyped birth cohort prospectively screened for CD.


In the initial screening, 13,860 HLA-DQ–genotyped children were invited, of whom 3435/13,860 (25%) accepted participation. Of the 3435, 1620 (47%) carried DQ2 and/or DQ8, of whom 73 (4.5%) were tTGA positive assessed in radioligand-binding assays and 56 (3.5%) developed CD. At age 9 years, 13,024 children from the original cohort were re-invited to follow-up screening using the same study protocol and tTGA assays as in the first screening. Diagnosis of CD was confirmed by intestinal biopsy in children with persistent tTGA.


In the follow-up screening, 1910/4077 (46.8%) carried DQ2 and/or DQ8, of whom 79/1910 (4.1%) were persistently tTGA positive and 72/1907 (3.8%) developed CD. Only 1/2167 (0.05%) child without HLA risk was IgG-tTGA positive, but did not have CD. Of the 980/1910 (51%) children carrying DQ2 and/or DQ8 who were already screened at 3 years of age, 30/979 (3.1%) were diagnosed as new patients at 9 years of age, compared with 42/928 (4.5%) children who did not participate in the initial screening (P = 0.094).


Screening for CD can be restricted to children carrying HLA-DQ2 and/or DQ8. Repeated screening using tTGA is necessary to identify new patients by 9 years of age. These findings may be relevant when considering implementing screening of the general population.

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