Coeliac disease (CD), due to its protean clinical manifestation, is still very under diagnosed in adults and delays in diagnosis may take years and even decades. Simple tools to find cases in primary care may help to identify patients for further diagnostic tests. We have evaluated the usefulness of an on site rapid fingertip whole blood point-of-care test (POCT) for such a purpose.
As CD is known to run within families, we tested 148 healthy relatives of 70 Romanian index cases with biopsy-proven CD (87% of all first-degree family members, median age 36 years) for the presence of circulating autoantibodies. In addition to performing the POCT (which measures blood erythrocyte self-TG2-autoantibody complexes) on site, blood was drawn for later evaluations of serum IgA-class endomysial antibodies (EMA). EMA-positive sera were further tested for transglutaminase 2 antibodies (TG2-IgA). All serological parameters were analyzed blindly in a centralized laboratory that had no knowledge of the on site POCT result. Endoscopic small intestinal biopsies was recommended for all POCT- or EMA-test positive subjects.
In on site testing the POCT was positive in 12/148 first-degree relatives (8%) and all these subjects were also serum EMA-positive. A positive EMA test was found only in one other subject. All remaining 135 healthy first-degree relatives were negative for both POCT and EMA. Four subjects positive for both POCT and EMA were negative for TG2-IgA. Ten out of thirteen of the antibody-positive subjects agreed to undergo endoscopy. The POCT was found to be positive in 8/9 first-degree relatives having coeliac-type mucosal lesions of grade Marsh 2 (n = 3) or Marsh 3 (n = 6). The three POCT-positive subjects not agreeing to undergo endoscopy were also both EMA- and TG2-IgA-positive.
The fingertip whole blood rapid POCT might fulfill the unmet need for a simple and cheap case-finding biomarker for early detection and presumptive diagnosis of CD. Confirmatory studies are warranted in adult case-finding in specialized outpatient clinics and in primary care.
Authors: Alina Popp, Mariana Jinga, Ciprian Jurcut, Vasile Balaban, Catalina Bardas, Kaija Laurila, Florina Vasilescu, Adina Ene, Ioana Anca, Markku Mäki