High rate of positive anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies in chronic liver disease. Role of liver decompensation and of the antigen source.Scand J Gastroenterol 2003; 38(1):50-4SJ
Since the recognition of tissue transglutaminase (tTG) as the target antigen of anti-endomysium antibodies, several ELISA assays using either guinea pig or human recombinant tTG have been developed. The aim of the study was to compare the behaviour of anti-tTG and anti-endomysium antibodies assays in coeliacs and in patients with chronic liver disease.
34 patients (24 women, 34.9 +/- 12.5 years) with coeliac disease and 41 with chronic liver disease (14 women, 57 +/- 11.2 years), including 19 cirrhotics, were evaluated for anti-endomysium antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence and for anti-tTG IgA antibodies by ELISA, using guinea pig liver or human recombinant transglutaminase.
The prevalences of anti-tTG and anti-endomysium antibodies were 100% in patients with coeliac disease at diagnosis, 75% and 64.3% in patients on a gluten-free diet. All liver disease patients were negative for anti-endomysium antibodies, while 11 (26.8%) were positive for anti-tTG. All these patients had liver cirrhosis and represented 57.9% of all cirrhotics. The presence of anti-tTG was associated with higher Child-Pugh scores. The use of human transglutaminase determined a reduction in the rate of positive results; however, the rate of positive anti-tTG was still 17.1% in all liver disease patients and 31.6% in cirrhotics.
Our data confirm that anti-tTG have a similar sensitivity compared with anti-endomysium antibodies assay in coeliacs. However, a high prevalence of positive anti-tTG results is observed in cirrhotic patients, even when human recombinant tTG is used. The high prevalence of positive results among cirrhotic patients is associated with more advanced liver disease.