Detection of undiagnosed coeliac disease with atypical features using antireticulin and antigliadin antibodies.Q J Med 1992; 84(305):713-8QJ
Eighteen patients with a variety of non-gastrointestinal symptoms were incidentally found to have circulating antireticulin antibody and on subsequent testing were also positive for antigliadin antibody. They prospectively underwent jejunal biopsy to determine whether or not they had coeliac disease. Their age range was 21-79 years (mean 42 years). Enteropathy was present in 13 (72 per cent) and was always associated with circulating IgA antigliadin antibody. Enteropathy was not present in the five cases who had only IgG antibody. Clinical improvement occurred in eight of 11 patients who complied with a gluten-free diet and was paralleled by an improvement in the mucosal histology in seven of eight who were re-biopsied. The most remarkable cases were two patients who presented with severe debility and no apparent haematological or biochemical abnormalities, and who subsequently made a dramatic recovery on a gluten-free diet. It is concluded that antireticulin antibody detected by routine autoantibody screening and confirmed to have IgA antigliadin antibody specificity is a useful indicator of an otherwise undiagnosed enteropathy. This serves to emphasize that the condition can sometimes be associated with atypical features and significant morbidity.