Antibodies to gliadin have been detected by immunofluorescence (IFL-AGA) and a micro-ELISA method (ELISA-AGA) in 45 out of 47 (96%) sera from patients with active childhood and adult coeliac disease. The two methods were more sensitive than R1-reticulin antibodies (R1-ARA) which were found only in 28 of the same patients (60%). R1-ARA were always negative in the 26 sera from patients with childhood coeliac disease and adult coeliac disease after gluten free diet, while IFL- and ELISA-AGA were respectively found in three (12%) and in four (15%) out of these patients. Moreover, while R1-ARA and IFL-AGA were strictly confined to coeliac disease. ELISA-AGA were occasionally found in patients with control diseases. These 'false positive' antibodies were all of IgG class and had low titres. In our experience IFL- and ELISA-AGA of IgA class were strictly confined to active childhood coeliac disease and adult coeliac disease. The detection of AGA is useful in monitoring the diet and in the follow up of coeliac disease. IFL- and ELISA-AGA, then, are to be preferred to R1-ARA for the screening of coeliac patients.
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