Screening for coeliac disease in healthy blood donors at two immune-transfusion centres in North-East Italy

C. Trevisiol, T. Not, I. Berti, E. Buratti, A. Citta, E. Neri, G. Torre, S. Martelossi, A. Tommasini, A. Alu, G. Barillari, S. Facchini, A. Ventura

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Background and aims. In the past, the reported prevalence of coeliac disease ranged from 1:1000 to 1:4000, whereas recent studies using serological screening methods have found a significantly higher prevalence. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of coeliac disease in healthy blood donors in a North-eastern region of Italy. Subjects. A total of 4000 healthy blood donors were studied from two immunotransfusion centres. Methods. Serum IgA-antiendomysium antibodies were detected by indirect immunofluorescence using human umbilical cord vein sections, and positive sera were tested also on monkey oesophagus tissue. Intestinal biopsy was performed in all antiendomysium-positive subjects. Results. Ten out of 4000 sera screened were found to be antiendomysium positive on human umbilical cord vein. All positive patients had flat mucosa on intestinal biopsy. Five subjects had coeliac disease-related clinical features (2 had a history of gastrointestinal symptoms, 1 a family history of IDDM, 1 sideropenic anaemia, and 1 IgA deficiency). One of the ten serum, antiendomysium positive on human umbilical cord vein, was found to be negative when tested on monkey oesophagus. Conclusions. These data confirm the high prevalence of undiagnosed silent coeliac disease in the healthy adult population. This is the first study where umbilical cord was used for screening coeliac disease in a large population. The human umbilical cord vein indirect immunofluorescence test is more specific for villous atrophy than conventional indirect immunofluorescence test on monkey oesophagus and is a reliable screening test for coeliac disease in an apparently healthy population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-586
Number of pages3
JournalItalian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1999



  • Blood donors
  • Coeliac disease
  • Screening
  • Umbilical cord vein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

Cite this

Trevisiol, C., Not, T., Berti, I., Buratti, E., Citta, A., Neri, E., Torre, G., Martelossi, S., Tommasini, A., Alu, A., Barillari, G., Facchini, S., & Ventura, A. (1999). Screening for coeliac disease in healthy blood donors at two immune-transfusion centres in North-East Italy. Italian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 31(7), 584-586.