False-positive Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies

While tissue transglutaminase IgA antibody is thought to have high specificity for celiac disease, other etiologies need to be considered. As an example, KR Schwartz et al. (NEJM 2016; 374: 1466-76) present a case report which describes a 12 year old who was diagnosed with lymphoma after presenting with anemia, abdominal pain, and fevers. One interesting point was the elevated tissue transglutaminase IgA antibody of 74 (0-15) at presentation; endomysial antibody was negative. The TTG IgA normalized with treatment. The authors note that the presence of TTG IgA antibodies “is not specific for celiac disease but rather is a general phenomenon related to mucosal lesions.”

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