Gliadin and tissue transglutaminase complexes in normal and coeliac duodenal mucosa

R. Ciccocioppo, A. Di Sabatino, C. Ara, F. Biagi, M. Perilli, G. Amicosante, M. G. Cifone, G. R. Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tissue transglutaminase (tTG) seems to be the target self-antigen for endomysial antibodies in coeliac disease (CD) and to catalyse the critical deamidation of gliadin which strengthens its recognition by HLA-restricted gut-derived T cells. To date, it has not been demonstrated whether gliadin is cross-linked to tTG within the gut wall, a phenomenon known to occur in vitro. We therefore investigated the putative presence of tTG and gliadin complexes directly in duodenal mucosa. The immunoprecipitation and Western blotting experiments were performed on mucosal biopsies obtained from untreated, treated CD patients and biopsied controls, by using either anti-tTG or anti-gliadin antibodies, in both denaturating/reducing or nondenaturating/nonreducing conditions. A subset of experiments was performed by using anti-tTG antibodies purified by affinity chromatography from sera of untreated coeliac patients. The localization of tTG and gliadin was studied by immunofluorescence at confocal laser microscopy on seriate sections of diseased and normal duodenal mucosa by using the same antibodies of the coimmunoprecipitation section. The amounts of tTG and gliadin coimmunoprecipitated with anti-tTG monoclonal antibody in untreated CD mucosa were significantly increased compared to those of the other two groups. When performing the experiments in nondenaturating/ nonreducing conditions, a high molecular weight band formed by both molecules, was evidenciated. Also the anti-tTG antibodies purified from patients' sera turned out to be able to coimmunoprecipitate the two molecules. The analysis by confocal microscopy showed that tTG colocalizes with gliadin at the epithelial and subepithelial levels in active CD, and only in the lamina propria of the villi in normal mucosa. Our findings firstly demonstrated that gliadin was directly bound to tTG in duodenal mucosa of coeliacs and controls, and the ability of circulating tTG-autoantibodies to recognize and immunoprecipitate the tTG-gliadin complexes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-524
Number of pages9
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Coeliac disease
  • Duodenal mucosa
  • Gliadin
  • Tissue transglutaminase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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