Diagnosis of coeliac disease

Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2005 Jun;19(3):389-400. doi: 10.1016/j.bpg.2005.02.006.


The diagnosis of coeliac disease depends on the finding of characteristic, though not specific changes, of intraepithelial lymphocytosis, crypt hyperplasia and various degrees of villous height reduction identified in duodenal biopsies of individuals ingesting a gluten containing diet, together with symptomatic and histologic improvement on gluten withdrawal. Serologic testing has become the main mode of determining who will undergo biopsy. The IgA endomysial antibody and IgA tissue transglutaminase antibody have approximately 90% sensitivity and specificity, though there are reports of lower sensitivity and specificity in the clinical practice setting. This is due to lower titers of these antibodies in the presence of lesser degrees of mucosal damage. The widespread availability of serologic tests for coeliac disease allows the diagnosis to be considered by any physician. Gastroenterologists will be required to interpret the results of serologic tests and perform duodenal biopsies when indicated. Pathologists likewise need to be better acquainted with the more subtle changes of cell mediated immunity within the mucosa that are suggestive of underlying gluten sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis*
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology