The role of the immune response against tissue transglutaminase in the pathogenesis of coeliac disease

Tobias Freitag, Hendrik Schulze-Koops, Gerald Niedobitek, Gerry Melino, Detlef Schuppan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The development of autoimmunity to tissue transglutaminase (TGase 2) is a striking feature of coeliac disease, an enteropathy that develops in genetically susceptible individuals upon exposure to dietary gluten. IgA anti-TGase 2 autoantibodies are present in at least 98% of coeliac patients on a gluten-containing diet and provide a valuable tool for the diagnosis of the disorder. During disease development, the formation of TGase 2-gliadin complexes through TGase 2 activity appears to be central for B-cell epitope spreading from gliadin to TGase 2. However, the potential role of an immune response against TGase 2 in the pathogenesis of coeliac disease and for the development of the intestinal lesion remains unclear. Recently, an inhibitory effect of anti-TGase 2 autoantibodies from coeliac patients on TGase 2 activity in vitro has been described. Here, we report that a cellular and humoral response against TGase 2 can be induced in TGase 2 (-/-) and wildtype mice on a C57BL/6 background by s.c. immunization with human recombinant or guinea pig TGase 2 in complete Freund's adjuvant. Immunized wildtype, but not TGase 2 (-/-) mice develop periductal lymphocytic infiltrates in lacrimal glands. Although no intestinal lesions were found, this observation lends support to the concept that the development of autoimmunity against TGase 2 is a pathological event that might ultimately lead to organ damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
JournalAutoimmunity Reviews
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 29 2004


  • Anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies
  • Autoantibodies
  • Autoimmunity
  • Coeliac disease
  • TGase 2 (-/-) mice
  • Tissue transglutaminase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy

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