Background: Immunoglobulin A class transglutaminase autoantibodies are highly predictive markers of active coeliac disease, a disorder difficult to recognize solely on clinical grounds.
Aims: To develop and evaluate a simple rapid test for point-of-care detection of coeliac autoantibodies.
Methods: The novel whole blood test utilizes the patient's endogenous transglutaminase in red blood cells for detection of transglutaminase-specific immunoglobulin A antibodies present in the blood sample, with normal plasma immunoglobulin A detection as positive test control. We evaluated 284 patients under suspicion of coeliac disease and undergoing jejunal biopsy, and 263 coeliac patients on a gluten-free diet, 383 being tested prospectively in a point-of-care setting. Results were compared with histology, conventional serum autoantibody results and dietary adherence.
Results: The rapid test showed 97% sensitivity and 97% specificity for untreated coeliac disease, and identified all immunoglobulin A-deficient samples. Point-of-care testing found new coeliac cases as efficiently as antibody tests in laboratory. Coeliac autoantibodies were detected onsite in 21% of treated patients, while endomysial and transglutaminase antibodies were positive in 20% and 19%, respectively. The positivity rate correlated with dietary lapses and decreased on intensified dietary advice given upon positive point-of-care test results.
Conclusions: Point-of-care testing was accurate in finding new coeliac cases and helped to identify and decrease dietary non-compliance.