Background: Refractory celiac disease (RCD) is a preneoplastic condition as many patients develop an enteropathy-type T-cell lymphoma, a mature T-cell receptor α-β lymphoma arising in the gut with an ominous outcome. Recently, research focused on a population of intraepithelial intestinal lymphocytes expressing the same lymphoma T-cell receptor variable region (V)γ, as shown by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and sequencing. Meanwhile, the Biomedicine and Health-2 Concerted Action has made available standardized, highly specific, and sensitive PCR assays not only for Vγ but also for Vβ. Goals: We verified whether analyzing both rearrangements in duodenal biopsies from RCD patients increases the diagnostic accuracy of this method. Study: Duodenal biopsies were analyzed from 15 RCD patients, 21 negative controls, and 2 positive controls (enteropathy-type T-cell lymphoma complicating celiac disease). Multiplex clonality analyses were performed according to the Biomedicine and Health-2 protocols. PCR products were cloned and sequenced. Results: Monoclonal rearrangements were found in 5/15 samples from patients with RCD (both rearrangements in 2 cases, Vβ only in 2, and only 1 solitary Vγ clonality). Monoclonality was found in 4/8 of the RCD patients who subsequently died, whereas only 1/7 of the patients still alive presented a monoclonal rearrangement. Positive controls revealed both monoclonal rearrangements; rearrangements were not detected in 20 of 21 negative controls. Sequencing of the amplified fragments confirmed the results. Conclusions:: The combined analysis of both rearrangements allowed recognition of monoclonal populations in otherwise negative patients, with detection rates from 20% (Vγ only) to 33% (Vγ and Vβ), thus raising the likelihood of early identification of RCD patients at high risk of death.
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