Patients with untreated coeliac disease were found to have high concentrations of circulating antibodies to 90 kDa glycoprotein, a mannose rich protein found in skin and intestinal mucosa. In contrast, patients with active Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis had antibody concentrations within the normal range. In coeliac disease the antibody concentrations fell significantly after gluten withdrawal. 90 kDa glycoprotein bound gliadin in a carbohydrate and calcium dependent manner. The results show that circulating antibodies directed against a gliadin-binding antigen are present in coeliac disease. 90 kDa glycoprotein may be a receptor for gliadin; in susceptible subjects ligand receptor interaction may result in cytotoxicity and antibody formation.
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