Human oesophagus: a convenient antigenic substrate for the determination of anti-endomysium antibodies in the serological diagnosis of coeliac disease.Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 1995; 7(1):37-40EJ
Immunoglobulin (Ig) A-class anti-endomysium antibodies are superior to other current antibody tests for detecting coeliac disease. We aimed to evaluate the suitability of human oesophagus for the determination of anti-endomysium antibodies.
The specificity of monkey and human oesophageal tissue as antigenic substrate were compared using indirect immunofluorescence analysis.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
Overall, 159 individuals were studied: 56 patients with biopsy-proven coeliac disease (39 with active disease) and 103 controls. The patients' IgA-class anti-endomysium antibodies were compared using unfixed cryostat sections of human and monkey oesophagus. Indirect immunofluorescence analysis was performed with an initial serum sample dilution of 1:5, and if positive, the highest dilution yielding a positive reaction was reported.
The anti-endomysium antibody test was positive in 38 out of 39 patients with active coeliac disease using monkey oesophagus (sensitivity 97%) and in all 39 patients with active coeliac disease using human oesophagus (sensitivity 100%). Ten out of 17 coeliac patients on a gluten-free diet had positive anti-endomysium antibodies using monkey oesophagus and 12 using human oesophagus as the antigenic substrate. This test was negative in all 103 controls using both substrates.
Our study shows that human oesophageal tissue can be used instead of monkey tissue for determining anti-endomysium antibodies. Human tissue is a more sensitive antigenic substrate than monkey oesophagus and can be used to determine low titres of antibodies. Improving the diagnostic sensitivity of the anti-endomysium antibody test would make an important contribution to screening for coeliac disease.