Background: In addition to IgA anti-endomysial antibodies, IgA anti-smooth muscle antibodies have been observed in a number of patients with coeliac disease (CoD), but only limited data exist on the frequency and antigen specificity of IgA against cytoskeletal proteins in CoD.
Methods: We evaluated the sera of 42 untreated CoD patients, follow-up sera of 26 CoD patients after treatment, and 116 control sera for IgA reactivity to cytoskeletal proteins from the human umbilical cord (HUC) by immunoblotting, and compared the results with anti-tissue transglutaminase IgA (anti-tTG IgA) ELISA and immunofluorescence results.
Results: Serum IgA from CoD patients most frequently recognized a 57-kD antigen in HUC cytoskeletal extract, identified as desmin using mass spectrometry and internal peptide sequencing. Increased IgA reactivity to the human desmin band was detected in 22 children with untreated CoD (52.4%), in 4 treated CoD patients (15.4%), and in 12 control subjects (10.3%) (p < 0.01); similar results were obtained with anti-chicken desmin IgA ELISA. Anti-tTG IgA levels (increased in 71.4% of untreated CoD patients) correlated significantly with anti-desmin IgA levels in untreated CoD, and both autoantibody reactivities decreased in response to a gluten-free diet. Pre-adsorption experiments and affinity purification of anti-desmin IgA antibodies further confirmed that desmin is an IgA autoantigen in CoD and is recognized by antibodies which are not cross-reactive with tTG.
Conclusions: Anti-desmin IgA antibodies are frequently occurring if not the predominant cytoskeletal antibodies in children with untreated CoD and could be related to the disease process in the small intestine.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel