Lack of evidence of rotavirus-dependent molecular mimicry as a trigger of coeliac disease

F. Ziberna, G. De Lorenzo, V. Schiavon, F. Arnoldi, S. Quaglia, Luigina De Leo, S. Vatta, S. Martelossi, O. R. Burrone, A. Ventura, T. Not

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New data suggest the involvement of rotavirus (RV) in triggering autoimmunity in coeliac disease (CD) by molecular mimicry between the human-transglutaminase protein and the dodecapeptide (260-271 aa) of the RV protein VP7 (pVP7). To assess the role of RV in the onset of CD, we measured anti-pVP7 antibodies in the sera of children with CD and of control groups. We analysed serum samples of 118 biopsy-proven CD patients and 46 patients with potential CD; 32 children with other gastrointestinal diseases; 107 no-CD children and 107 blood donors. Using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) assay, we measured immunoglobulin (Ig)A–IgG antibodies against the synthetic peptides pVP7, the human transglutaminase-derived peptide (476–487 aa) which shows a homology with VP7 protein and a control peptide. The triple-layered RV particles (TLPs) containing the VP7 protein and the double-layered RV-particles (DLPs) lacking the VP7 protein were also used as antigens in ELISA assay. Antibody reactivity to the RV-TLPs was positive in 22 of 118 (18%) CD patients and in both paediatric (17 of 107, 16%) and adult (29 of 107, 27%) control groups, without showing a statistically significant difference among them (P = 0·6, P = 0·1). Biopsy-proven CD patients as well as the adult control group demonstrated a high positive antibody reactivity against both pVP7 (34 of 118, 29% CD patients; 66 of 107, 62% adult controls) and control synthetic peptides (35 of 118, 30% CD patients; 56 of 107, 52% adult controls), suggesting a non-specific response against RV pVP7. We show that children with CD do not have higher immune reactivity to RV, thus questioning the molecular mimicry mechanism as a triggering factor of CD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)356-363
Number of pages8
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016


  • coeliac disease
  • molecular mimicry
  • rotavirus
  • VP7

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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