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High prevalence rates of adult silent coeliac disease, as seen in Sweden, must be expected in Denmark

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Aim: To disclose the prevalence of adult “silent” coeliac disease in Denmark and Sweden. Experimental design: 1573 Danish and 1866 Swedish healthy blood donors were screened for the presence of serum anti-gliadin antibodies (AGA) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. AGA-positive serum samples were further analysed for IgA anti-endomysium antibodies (EmA) by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy. Main results: The Danish donor population had a higher mean age than the Swedish (41.4 years versus 37.6 years) and a higher proportion of females (41% versus 32%), and had a lower mean level of AGA (17.3 units versus 20.6 units). Sixty-one (3.9%) Danish donors had AGA above the cut-off limit, and four of these also had positive EmA tests. Sixty (3.2%) Swedish donors had AGA above the cut-off limit, and five of these also had positive EmA. Coeliac pathology was proven by biopsy in all five coeliac disease-suspected Swedish donors. No small intestinal biopsy was performed in the coeliac disease-suspected Danish donors. Conclusions: Based upon the finding of EmA in AGA-positive serum samples, silent coeliac disease may be suspected in 1 per 394 Danish blood donors (2.5 per 1,000). A similar rate was proven in 1 per 373 Swedish blood donors (2.7 per 1,000), indicating no major differences in the prevalence of adult silent coeliac disease between the two neighbouring countries.

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Keywords: Coeliac disease; anti-endomysium antibodies; anti-gliadin antibodies; epidemiology; prevalence; screening; small intestinal biopsy

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Paediatrics, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, 2: Division of Clinical Immunology, Department of Health and Environment, Faculty of Health Sciences, Linköping University, 3: Department of Clinical Chemistry, Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 4: Department of Paediatrics, Lund University Hospital, Sweden, 5: Department of Paediatrics, Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Publication date: 2001-11-01

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