It has been shown that partial amino acid sequence homology between alpha gliadin and an early region protein (E1B-58 kDa) of adenovirus 12 results in immunological cross reaction. This led to the proposal that prior infection by adenovirus 12 could be associated with the development of coeliac disease. To examine this hypothesis, evidence was sought of persistent adenovirus 12 infection in the small intestinal mucosa of patients with coeliac disease. DNA isolated from biopsy samples from 24 control and 18 coeliac disease patients was analysed by the polymerase chain reaction for adenovirus 12 DNA encoding the E1B-58 kDa protein. Four of 18 coeliac disease and two of 24 control patients were positive. There is thus a low prevalence of this infection on both groups of patients but certainly no significantly increased incidence in coeliac disease. These results suggest that persistent adenovirus 12 infection is not a major element in the pathogenesis of coeliac disease.
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