Small-intestinal TG2-specific plasma cells at different stages of coeliac disease

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BMC Immunology. 2018 Dec 06;19(1):36

Title: Small-intestinal TG2-specific plasma cells at different stages of coeliac disease
Author: Hietikko, Minna; Koskinen, Outi; Kurppa, Kalle; Laurila, Kaija; Saavalainen, Päivi; Salmi, Teea; Ilus, Tuire; Huhtala, Heini; Kaukinen, Katri; Lindfors, Katri
Publisher: BioMed Central
Date: 2018-12-06
Abstract: Abstract Background In coeliac disease, ingestion of gluten induces the production of transglutaminase 2 (TG2)-targeted autoantibodies by TG2-specific plasma cells present at high frequency in the small intestinal mucosa in untreated disease. During treatment with a gluten-free diet (GFD), the number of these cells decreases considerably. It has not been previously investigated whether the cells are also present prior to development of villous atrophy, or in non-responsive patients and those with dietary lapses. We aimed to define the frequency of small bowel mucosal TG2-specific plasma cells in coeliac disease patients with varying disease activity, and to investigate whether the frequency correlates with serum and small intestinal TG2-targeting antibodies as well as mucosal morphology and the number of intraepithelial lymphocytes. Results Mucosal TG2-specific plasma cells were found in 79% of patients prior to development of mucosal damage, in all patients with villous atrophy, and in 63% of the patients after 1 year on GFD. In these disease stages, TG2-specific plasma cells accounted for median of 2.3, 4.3, and 0.7% of all mucosal plasma cells, respectively. After long-term treatment, the cells were present in 20% of the patients in clinical remission (median 0%) and in 60% of the patients with poor dietary adherence (median 5.8%). In patients with non-responsive coeliac disease despite strict GFD, the cells were found in only one (9%) subject; the cells accounted for 2.4% of all plasma cells. A positive correlation between the percentage of TG2-specific plasma cells and serum TG2 antibody levels (rS = 0.69, P < 0.001) and the intensity of mucosal TG2-targeting IgA deposits (rS = 0.43, P < 0.001) was observed. Conclusions Our results show that TG2-specific plasma cells are already detectable prior to villous atrophy, and that generally their frequency increases during overt disease. By contrast, on GFD, the percentage of these cells decreases. Overall, the presence of TG2-specific plasma cells in the small bowel mucosa mirrors the presence of gluten in the diet, but the frequency is not always parallel to the level of serum or intestinal TG2 antibodies. These findings increase the knowledge about the development of the TG2 plasma cell responses especially in the early phases of coeliac disease.
Subject: Coeliac disease
Transglutaminase 2
Small intestine

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