Objective: The prevalence of celiac disease (CD) has increased significantly in recent years, and risk prediction and early diagnosis have become imperative especially in at-risk families. In a previous study, we identified individuals with CD based on the expression profile of a set of candidate genes in peripheral blood monocytes. Here we evaluated the expression of a panel of CD candidate genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from at-risk infants long time before any symptom or production of antibodies.
Methods: We analyzed the gene expression of a set of 9 candidate genes, associated with CD, in 22 human leukocyte antigen predisposed children from at-risk families for CD, studied from birth to 6 years of age. Nine of them developed CD (patients) and 13 did not (controls). We analyzed gene expression at 3 different time points (age matched in the 2 groups): 4-19 months before diagnosis, at the time of CD diagnosis, and after at least 1 year of a gluten-free diet. At similar age points, controls were also evaluated.
Results: Three genes (KIAA, TAGAP [T-cell Activation GTPase Activating Protein], and SH2B3 [SH2B Adaptor Protein 3]) were overexpressed in patients, compared with controls, at least 9 months before CD diagnosis. At a stepwise discriminant analysis, 4 genes (RGS1 [Regulator of G-protein signaling 1], TAGAP, TNFSF14 [Tumor Necrosis Factor (Ligand) Superfamily member 14], and SH2B3) differentiate patients from controls before serum antibodies production and clinical symptoms. Multivariate equation correctly classified CD from non-CD children in 95.5% of patients.
Conclusions: The expression of a small set of candidate genes in peripheral blood mononuclear cells can predict CD at least 9 months before the appearance of any clinical and serological signs of the disease.