Elevated B cell-activating factor of the tumour necrosis factor family in coeliac disease

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2007 Dec;42(12):1434-9. doi: 10.1080/00365520701452225.


Objective: The B cell-activating factor of the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) family (BAFF) was recently described as a critical survival factor for B cells, and its expression is increased in several autoimmune diseases. Abnormal production of BAFF disturbs immune tolerance allowing the survival of autoreactive B cells and participates in the progression of B-cell lymphomas. Coeliac disease (CD) is a common autoimmune disorder induced by gluten intake in genetically predisposed individuals, associated with autoantibody production and with an increased risk of lymphoma at follow-up. The purpose of this study was to investigate the possible implications of BAFF in CD.

Material and methods: Seventy-three patients with small-bowel biopsies and laboratory-proven diagnosis of CD were included in the study. All serum samples were analysed before the start of a gluten-free diet (GFD). In 12 cases, one or more samples were analysed during follow-up of the GFD. Seventy-seven blood donors were taken as controls. Serum BAFF levels and anti-transglutaminase (a-tTG) antibodies were assessed by ELISA and endomysial antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence.

Results: Serum BAFF levels appeared to be significantly more elevated in CD patients than in controls (p<0.0001) and, compared with other autoimmune diseases where BAFF is increased, a much larger percentage (80.8%) of CD patients presented BAFF levels above the normal range. In addition, serum BAFF levels were found to correlate with a-tTG antibody levels (p =0.0007) and there was a significant reduction of BAFF after introduction of a GFD.

Conclusions: BAFF may represent a possible pathogenic factor in CD. Its implications for the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of CD should also be assessed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • B-Cell Activating Factor / blood*
  • Celiac Disease / blood*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disease Progression
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Autoantibodies
  • B-Cell Activating Factor