Tissue transglutaminase C has recently been identified as one of the auto-antigens of endomysial antibodies found in coeliac disease. In this study we have cloned the human autoantigen and developed immunoassays measuring antibodies to transglutaminase in order to compare their diagnostic performance to that of established markers of the disease. A radiobinding assay using in vitro transcribed and translated 35S-methionine-labelled transglutaminase detected IgG antibodies in 110 and IgA antibodies in 109 of 112 patients at diagnosis of coeliac disease and in three and four of 92 control subjects, respectively. A radiobinding assay measuring both IgG and IgA transglutaminase antibodies identified 111 (99.1%) of the patients and 4 (4.3%) control subjects. Concordance of this assay with the IgA endomysial antibody test was found in 108 patients and 89 control subjects: two patients who had IgA deficiency and a third patient without IgA deficiency were only detected in the radiobinding assay; one patient had weak IgA endomysial antibodies only, and three of the control subjects with weak transglutaminase antibodies by radiobinding assay were undetectable in the IgA endomysial antibody assay. IgA and IgG ELISA using guinea pig transglutaminase and commercial ELISA measuring anti-gliadin antibodies had lower sensitivity and specificity than the radiobinding assays or the IgA endomysial antibody assay. This study confirms tissue transglutaminase C as a major autoantigen in coeliac disease and describes novel radiobinding assays for large scale testing to identify cases of coeliac disease.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.