Dr. Maureen Leonard, Clinical Director of the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment, and colleagues recently published a study describing the frequency of intestinal healing in children diagnosed with celiac disease (CD). The study focused on children with CD who had adhered to the gluten free diet (GFD) for at least one year and aimed to understand if intestinal healing was achieved. One in five (20%) children in the study had persistent intestinal damage despite adherence to the GFD. Tissue transglutaminase (tTG) IgA (the marker in the blood that is helpful for diagnosis of CD) level was not an accurate predictor of intestinal recovery. This marker was abnormal (indicating the active state of the disease) in 32% of children with full healing and 43% of children with ongoing damage.
Physicians and dietitians have long used tTG IgA as a surrogate marker of adherence to the GFD and intestinal healing. The results of this research demonstrate that this particular blood test is not effective for these purposes. Future studies should aim to uncover a marker in the blood, stool, or urine that correlates with degree of intestinal damage so that disease activity in children with CD can be monitored in a non-invasive manner. To read more about this study, visit Dr. Leonard’s blog on Huffington Post.