Anti-transglutaminase antibodies in non-coeliac children suffering from infectious diseases

F. Ferrara, S. Quaglia, I. Caputo, C. Esposito, M. Lepretti, S. Pastore, R. Giorgi, S. Martelossi, G. Dal Molin, N. Di Toro, A. Ventura, T. Not

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anti-transglutaminase antibodies are the diagnostic markers of coeliac disease. A role is suggested for infectious agents in the production of anti-transglutaminase antibodies. The aim was to measure positive anti-transglutaminase antibody levels in children with infectious diseases and to compare immunological and biological characteristics of the anti-transglutaminase antibodies derived from these children with that from coeliac patients. Two hundred and twenty-two children suffering from infectious diseases were enrolled prospectively along with seven biopsy-proven coeliacs. Serum samples were tested for anti-transglutaminase antibodies and anti-endomysium antibodies; positive samples were tested for coeliac-related human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2/8 and anti-viral antibodies. Purified anti-transglutaminase antibodies from the two study groups were tested for urea-dependent avidity, and their ability to induce cytoskeletal rearrangement and to modulate cell-cycle in Caco-2 cells, using phalloidin staining and bromodeoxyuridine incorporation assays, respectively. Nine of 222 children (4%) tested positive to anti-transglutaminase, one of whom also tested positive for anti-endomysium antibodies. This patient was positive for HLA-DQ2 and was diagnosed as coeliac following intestinal biopsy. Of the eight remaining children, two were positive for HLA-DQ8. Levels of anti-transglutaminase returned to normal in all subjects, despite a gluten-containing diet. Purified anti-transglutaminase of the two study groups induced actin rearrangements and cell-cycle progression. During an infectious disease, anti-transglutaminase antibodies can be produced temporarily and independently of gluten. The infection-triggered anti-transglutaminase antibodies have the same biological properties as that of the coeliacs, with the same in-vivo potential for damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-223
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2010


  • Anti-transglutaminase antibodies
  • Celiac disease
  • Infectious diseases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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