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Abstract

Aims

Immunoglobulin A (IgA) measurement is advocated when case finding for coeliac disease in patients with Type 1 diabetes mellitus. Currently, there is a paucity of contemporary studies assessing IgA deficiency in Type 1 diabetes. This study evaluates the prevalence of IgA deficiency in individuals with Type 1 diabetes, compared with patients with coeliac disease and control subjects. In addition, we evaluate whether routine IgA measurement is justifiable when case finding for coeliac disease in patients with Type 1 diabetes.

Methods

All patients were assessed using IgA endomysial antibodies, IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies and total IgA levels. Altogether, 2434 individuals were tested: 1000 patients with Type 1 diabetes, 234 patients with coeliac disease and 1200 population control subjects. Definitive IgA deficiency was defined as total IgA levels < 0.07 g/l.

Results

The prevalence of IgA deficiency was significantly more common in patients with Type 1 diabetes (0.9%, n = 9/1000; P = 0.036) and coeliac disease (1.29%, n = 3/234; P = 0.041) when compared with population control subjects (prevalence of 0.17%, 2/1200). No statistical difference between Type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease for IgA deficiency was identified (P = 0.87). Of patients in the group with Type 1 diabetes, 3.3% (33/1000) had coeliac disease, and of those only one patient had IgA deficiency leading to an antibody-negative presentation. Both IgA-deficient individuals within the population control subjects had normal duodenal biopsies and no relevant symptoms.

Conclusions

IgA deficiency is more common in Type 1 diabetes compared with population control subjects. Despite this, very few individuals with Type 1 diabetes and IgA deficiency appear to have villous atrophy on biopsy. These outcomes question the practice of routine IgA measurement when case finding for coeliac disease in patients with Type 1 diabetes.