Objective: Although the factors predisposing to coeliac disease (CD) are largely understood, it remains unclear what determines the clinical heterogeneity of the disease. The aim of this study was to explore the contribution of histological, serological, and genetic factors to disease presentation.
Material and methods: The study was designed as a retrospective chart review of 384 unrelated Caucasian patients diagnosed with CD after the age of 16 at a single UK centre.
Results: We found that 8.8% of IgA-competent CD patients were endomysial antibody (EMA)-negative. Compared with the EMA-positive group, EMA-negative CD patients had a lower prevalence of iron deficiency (52.0% versus 72.6%, p=0.03) and Marsh IIIb-c lesions (66.7% versus 85.3%, p=0.03). Histological severity at diagnosis correlated with anaemia (p<0.01), folate deficiency (p<0.01), and iron deficiency (p=0.05), but no other laboratory or clinical features. Compared with human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DQ2.5-positive patients, those carrying HLA-DQ2.2 were similar in terms of all the characteristics we considered, whereas those carrying HLA-DQ8 had a lower frequency of EMA positivity (62.5% versus 92.6%, p<0.01). The proportion of EMA-positive patients increased with frequency of the HLA-DQB1*0201 allele (76.7% versus 92.3% versus 96.4% for 0 versus 1 versus 2 alleles, p<0.01); no other evidence of a gene-dose effect of HLA-DQB1*0201 was observed.
Conclusions: Histological severity at diagnosis of CD is associated with anaemia and some micronutrient deficiencies, but no other clinical features. The proportion of EMA-positive patients is higher amongst those carrying HLA-DQ2 than in those carrying HLA-DQ8, and is highest in HLA-DQ2 homozygotes. We found no correlation between frequency of the HLA-DQ alleles encoding HLA-DQ2.5 and CD severity.