It has always been known that anti-tissue transglutaminase 2 (anti-TG2) antibodies are produced in the small intestine. Their serum titres correlate with mucosal damage degree and decrease on a gluten-free diet (GFD).
We aimed to correlate intestinal anti-TG2 antibodies levels with degree of mucosal damage and GFD duration.
Thirty-four active, 71 potential and 24 CD patients on GFD for at least 2 years were enrolled. Anti-TG2 deposits were detected in intestinal biopsies by double immunofluorescence. Biopsies were cultured for 24 h with medium, and with gliadin peptic tryptic digest (PTG) or A-gliadin peptide 31–43 (P31-43). Anti-TG2 antibodies secreted into supernatants were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). All active CD patients secreted high titres of anti-TG2 antibodies into culture medium that increased with the worsening of mucosal injury (Spearman's r = 0·71; P < 0·0001). Seventy of 71 potential CD patients and 15 of 24 treated CD patients secreted low titres of anti-TG2 antibodies into supernatants, eight of nine negative treated patients being on GFD for more than 10 years. An inverse correlation between antibody titres and duration of GFD was found, (Spearman's r = −0·52; P < 0·01). All active, 53 of 71 potential and six of 24 treated, CD patients showed anti-TG2 mucosal deposits. Five of six positive treated CD patients had been on GFD for fewer than 6 years and were also positive for secreted anti-TG2. In treated patients, PTG/P31-43 was not able to induce secretion of anti-TG2 antibodies into culture medium.
Measurement of anti-TG2 antibodies in biopsy supernatants proved to be more sensitive than detection by immunofluorescence to reveal their intestinal production. Intestinal antiTG2 antibodies titres correlated positively with the degree of mucosal damage and inversely with the duration of GFD.