Prevalence of coeliac disease in the adult population of central Greece.Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2007; 19(11):982-7EJ
Recent studies from several countries have shown that coeliac disease (CD) is increasingly being diagnosed in adults, as the availability of new, accurate serologic tests has made screening in the general population possible. No data exist regarding the prevalence of CD in Greece. The aim of this study was the implementation of a serologic screening procedure for CD in the adult general population of Thessaly, an area of central Greece, using a novel diagnostic algorithm.
The study included 2230 participants (1226 women, 1004 men, median age 46 years, range 18-80 years), selected by systematic random sampling, from the adult general population of Thessaly. All the serum samples were tested for total immunoglobulin A (IgA)-serum levels, to exclude IgA deficiency. Samples with total IgA within the normal range were tested for IgA antibodies against native human-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG); samples that were anti-tTG positive were tested for IgA antiendomysial antibodies (EmA). Samples from participants with selective IgA deficiency were examined for IgG antigliadin antibodies. Participants who were EmA-positive or antigliadin antibody-positive were referred for intestinal biopsy and human leucocyte antigen (HLA) typing.
No participant with selective IgA deficiency was detected. Four individuals tested positive for EmA, all of whom were biopsy-proven coeliacs. Therefore, the CD prevalence in this general population sample is 1 : 558 or 1.8 per 1000 (SE 0.13). The four new patients with abnormal histology (two men, two women) were aged between 18 and 35 years. Two of them were considered to be asymptomatic and two presented with a subclinical course. All four had the heterodimer HLA-DQ2.
This first serological screening study for CD in Greece has demonstrated that CD prevalence in Thessaly is among the lowest reported in Europe.