During the past 20 years the diagnosis of coeliac disease has improved significantly. However, at the same time the true prevalence of the condition has doubled, involving more than 2% of the population in some countries. Due to mild or atypical symptoms, the diagnosis remains a challenge for the health care system. Highly sensitive and specific serum endomysial and transglutaminase-2 antibody tests are helpful in identifying patients for diagnostic endoscopy and small-bowel biopsy. The diagnosis of the disease is still based on the demonstration of gluten-induced small-bowel mucosal villous atrophy with crypt hyperplasia. However, coeliac disease may manifest itself before the development of the overt small-intestinal lesion. Positive endomysial and transglutaminase antibodies in patients with normal small-bowel mucosal villous architecture may indicate early stage coeliac disease. Currently, the only effective treatment for the condition is a life-long strict gluten-free diet. Long-term regular follow-up of patients is recommended in order to maintain good adherence to the diet.
Clin Chem Lab Med 2010;48:1205–16.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York