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Journal of Immunology Research
Volume 2017, Article ID 1042606, 8 pages
Review Article

Diagnostic and Research Aspects of Small Intestinal Disaccharidases in Coeliac Disease

1King’s College London, Gastroenterology, Rayne Institute, St Thomas’ Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK
2Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ljubljana, Aškerčeva 7, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Correspondence should be addressed to Tanja Šuligoj;

Received 13 January 2017; Accepted 1 March 2017; Published 20 April 2017

Academic Editor: Amado S. Peña

Copyright © 2017 Tanja Šuligoj et al. 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.


Disaccharidases (DS) are brush border enzymes embedded in the microvillous membrane of small intestinal enterocytes. In untreated coeliac disease (CD), a general decrease of DS activities is seen. This manuscript reviews different aspects of DS activities in CD: their utility in the diagnosis and their application to in vitro toxicity testing. The latter has never been established in CD research. However, with the recent advances in small intestinal organoid techniques, DS might be employed as a biomarker for in vitro studies. This includes establishment of self-renewing epithelial cells raised from tissue, which express differentiation markers, including the brush border enzymes. Determining duodenal DS activities may provide additional information during the diagnostic workup of CD: (i) quantify the severity of the observed histological lesions, (ii) provide predictive values for the grade of mucosal villous atrophy, and (iii) aid diagnosing CD where minor histological changes are seen. DS can also provide additional information to assess the response to a gluten-free diet as marked increase of their activities occurs four weeks after commencing it. Various endogenous and exogenous factors affecting DS might also be relevant when considering investigating the role of DS in other conditions including noncoeliac gluten sensitivity and DS deficiencies.