Background: The sensitivity and specificity of current antihuman tissue transglutaminase (tTG) IgA assays used to detect celiac disease reportedly approach 100%. In addition, the sensitivity of new generation deamidated gliadin peptide (alpha-DGP) antibody assays has also been reported to be similar to the tTG IgA assays. In routine clinical practice, however, the sensitivities and specificities of these tests for diagnosing celiac disease seem to be lower.
Aim: We analyzed sensitivities and specificities of 4 IgA tTG and 3 deamidated gliadin peptide (alpha-DGP) kits.
Methods: The performance of 4 tTG IgA assays, A: Inova (Hu red blood cell), B: Binding site (rHu Ag), C: Eurospital (rHu Ag), D: Immco (rHu Ag) and 3 Inova alpha-DGP assays, E: alpha-DGP-IgA, F: alpha-DGP-IgG, and G: alpha-DGP-IgA+G was evaluated using sera from different subsets of celiac disease patients and controls; group 1: active celiac disease n=28, group 2: gluten-free diet n=54, group 3: healthy controls n=40, group 4: disease controls n=57(Crohn's disease n=17, chronic hepatitis n=40).
Results: Using the manufacturer's cut-off values, the sensitivities and specificities of different kits ranged from 71.4% to 96.4% and 87.5% to 100%, respectively. When group 1 was compared with disease controls, sensitivities remained the same but specificities decreased. Receiver operating characteristic plot derived cut-off values modified decision thresholds in all assays except kit (G). Kappa analysis demonstrated variable degrees of agreement. All assays demonstrated higher sensitivities for patients with higher grades of villous atrophy.
Conclusions: Overall sensitivity was at or below 90%, which is lower than that reported in the literature. Performance of the recombinant and red blood cell antigen-based tTG assays was similar, whereas the alpha-DGP assays demonstrated lower values. Receiver operating characteristic plot derived cut-off values altered test results. Many factors affect the results of these tests and clinicians should be aware of their limitations.