Celiac Update September 2015

A useful review (CP Kelly et al. Gastroenterol 2015; 148: 1175-86) summarizes the ‘state of the art” information regarding celiac disease presentation and management. The review notes that some expert organization consensus state that intestinal biopsy is mandatory whereas some do not under certain conditions.

According to ESPGHAN, if anti-TTG >10-fold elevated, anti-EMA positive in separate sample, and +HLA typing, then a biopsy may not be required.  For the WGO (World Gastroenterologic Organization), the exception focuses on available local resources.

The article recommends the following for monitoring:

  • Clinical evaluation -annually or if recurrent symptoms
  • Serology & Nutritional evaluation -every 3-6 months until normal, then every 1-2 years.  Common nutrient deficiencies: iron, vitamin D, vitamin B12, folate, and zinc
  • Bone density -once within first 2 years.  (Some recommend checking after 1 year on gluten free diet)
  • Liver transaminase levels & Thyroid function tests -at diagnosis, then every 1-2 years.  Autoimmune thyroid disorders are “found in approximately 15-20% of adults with celiac disease”

A second retrospective indicates that ESPGHAN criteria for avoiding biopsy in children and adolescents with high titers for anti-TTG (>10-fold) along with positive EMA, and HLA-DQ2/DQ8.are reasonable.  Here’s the abstract:

Are ESPGHAN “Biopsy-Sparing” Guidelines for Celiac Disease also Suitable for Asymptomatic Patients?

CM Trovato, et al.The American Journal of Gastroenterology , (15 September 2015) | doi:10.1038/ajg.2015.285


In 2012, European Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition published novel guidelines on celiac disease (CD) diagnosis. Symptomatic children with serum anti-transglutaminase (anti-tTG) antibody levels ≥10 times upper limit of normal (ULN) could avoid duodenal biopsies after positive HLA test and serum anti-endomysial antibodies (EMAs). So far, both asymptomatic and symptomatic patients with anti-tTG titer <10 times ULN should undergo upper endoscopy with duodenal biopsies to confirm diagnosis. The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of serological tests to diagnose CD in asymptomatic patients.


We retrospectively reviewed data of 286 patients (age range: 10 months to 17 years) with CD diagnosis based on elevated titer of anti-tTG, EMA positivity, and histology. All patients were distinguished between symptomatic and asymptomatic; histological lesions were graded according to the Marsh–Oberhuber (MO) criteria. Fisher exact test was applied to analyze both groups in terms of diagnostic reliability of serological markers.


A total of 196 patients (68.53%) had anti-tTG titers ≥10 times ULN. Among them, a group of 156 patients (79.59%) also had symptoms suggestive of CD (“high-titer” symptomatic); of these, 142 patients (91.02%) showed severe lesion degree (3a, 3b, 3c MO). Conversely, 40 out of 196 patients (20.40%) were asymptomatic (“high-titer” asymptomatic) and 37 patients (92.5%) of them showed severe lesion degree (3a, 3b, 3c MO). No difference in histological damage was found between “high-titer” symptomatic and “high-titer” asymptomatic children (Fisher exact test, P=1.000).


If confirmed in large multicenter prospective studies, the “biopsy-sparing” protocol seems to be applicable to both symptomatic and asymptomatic patients with anti-tTG titer ≥10 times ULN, positive EMA, and HLA-DQ2/DQ8.

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One thought on “Celiac Update September 2015

  1. Pingback: “To biopsy or not to biopsy” –that is the question (for Celiac disease) | gutsandgrowth

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