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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 14 (2000), Issue 8, Pages 672-675
Original Article

Prevalence of IgA Antibodies to Endomysium and Tissue Transglutaminase in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis

Helen R Gillett,1 Karen Cauch-Dudek,2 E Jenny L Healthcote,2 and Hugh J Freeman1

1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 28 June 1999; Revised 19 October 1999

Copyright © 2000 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The association between celiac disease and primary biliary cirrhosis has been described in several case reports and small screening studies, with varying prevalence rates. Stored sera from 378 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis were tested for immunoglobulin (Ig) A endomysium and tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Ten patients were positive for both antibodies (2.6%); five of these patients had had small bowel biopsies confirming celiac disease. A further 44 patients (11.6%) had raised titres of IgA tissue transglutaminase antibody but were negative for IgA endomysium antibody. The increased prevalence of celiac-related antibodies in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis suggests that the two conditions are associated, although the reason for the association remains unclear. Patients with primary biliary cirrhosis should be considered to be at high risk for celiac disease. Although liver biochemistry does not improve when these patients are fed a gluten-free diet, the complications of untreated celiac disease warrant the identification and treatment of the condition in this population.