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HLA genotyping as first-line screening tool for coeliac disease in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis


Objectives Coeliac disease (CD) and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) often coexist. This association warrants assessment for CD in patients with JIA. We evaluated the clinical relevance and cost-effectiveness of human leucocyte antigen (HLA) genotyping in first-line screening for development of CD in children with JIA.

Patients and interventions 95 patients with JIA were screened for CD using CD-specific antibodies. In case of positivity, a small intestinal biopsy was performed to confirm diagnosis. In addition, HLA genotyping was performed. 110 age-matched and sex-matched Caucasian children from the same geographical area served as controls.

Results CD was diagnosed in 4 of 95 patients with JIA (4.2%), a rate significantly higher compared with controls (p<0.02) and 14 times higher than in the general population. Twenty-six patients (27.4%) had one of the variants of the risk genotypes. All four patients diagnosed with CD had a HLA-DQ2.5 genotype: one was homozygote, the remainder heterozygote. Twenty-two patients are, judging by their HLA genotypes, at risk of developing CD and require repeated serological screening. None of the 69 patients without HLA-DQ2/DQ8 genotypes had CD-specific antibodies. Screening with HLA genotyping becomes cheaper than screening without after the second determination.

Conclusions In our cohort of patients with JIA, lack of HLA-DQ2/DQ8 genotypes identified a majority not at risk of CD in whom repeated serological testing is unnecessary. Genotyping is nowadays the most efficient and cost-effective way to screen for CD risk in JIA.

  • Coeliac disease
  • children
  • juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Screening
  • HLA genotyping

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