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Transthyretin values correlate with mucosal recovery in patients with coeliac disease taking a gluten free diet
  1. S A McMillan,
  2. W Dickey,
  3. J P Douglas,
  4. D F Hughes
  1. Regional Immunology Service, Royal Group of Hospitals, Belfast, BT12 6BN, Northern Ireland
  2. Department of Gastroenterology, Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry, BT47 6SB, Northern Ireland
  3. Department of Histopathology, Altnagelvin Hospital
  1. Dr McMillan stan.mcmillan{at}


Aims—To assess changes in indicators of nutrition and iron deficiency as possible non-invasive markers of mucosal recovery in patients with coeliac disease on a gluten free diet.

Methods—Concentrations of transthyretin, retinol binding protein, soluble transferrin receptor, IgA anti-gliadin, and IgA anti-transglutaminase, and titres of IgA anti-endomysial antibody were measured in 36 newly diagnosed adult patients with coeliac disease and duodenal villous atrophy before (T0) and after one year (T1) on a gluten free diet. Duodenal biopsies taken at T0 and T1 were compared and graded as no improvement (no change in initial grade of villous atrophy) or improvement.

Results—Twenty two patients showed histological improvement and 14 showed no improvement. Transthyretin values increased in all patients with mucosal improvement and decreased in all patients showing no improvement. However, transthyretin values did not correlate with the degree of villous atrophy at T0 and T1 when assessed separately. Changes in retinol binding protein and soluble transferrin receptor values did not correlate with mucosal improvement. Coeliac disease associated antibodies (to gliadin, endomysium, and transglutaminase) decreased in most patients between T0 and T1, irrespective of mucosal recovery.

Conclusions—Serial but not single measurements of transthyretin may be used as a non-invasive test to monitor mucosal recovery and therefore reduce the need for, or frequency of, follow up biopsies in treated patients with coeliac disease.

  • coeliac disease
  • transthyretin
  • nutrition
  • villous atrophy

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