Serum IgA anti-gliadin antibodies in an adult population sample. High prevalence without celiac disease

Dig Dis Sci. 1993 Nov;38(11):2034-7. doi: 10.1007/BF01297081.


IgA-class anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) and IgA-, IgG-, IgM-class anti-reticulin antibodies (ARA) were determined in 1461 persons, representing 84% of a population from the village of Karksi-Nuia. AGA were detected by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and ARA by indirect immunofluorescence. Fifty-two (3.5%) persons had IgA-class AGA, of whom 48 and an additional three of four persons with diarrhea were biopsied. All biopsies showed normal small intestinal mucosal architecture. All 1461 persons were negative for ARA. Our results demonstrate that AGA are frequently detected in an adult Estonian population and positivity increases with age in persons with normal small intestinal mucosa. Positivity for AGA does not predict silent undetected celiac disease but rather represents a normal response to dietary antigens in the elderly. Inability to detect ARA suggests that celiac disease does not exist in this population. As none of the AGA-positive but ARA-negative biopsied persons had celiac disease, ARA might be a more specific serologic marker for celiac disease than AGA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease / diagnosis
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology*
  • Celiac Disease / prevention & control
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Estonia / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gliadin / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Prevalence
  • Reticulin / immunology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Reticulin
  • Gliadin