A new test for the detection of antibodies to gliadin in the sera of children who are gluten sensitive is described. This test is based on the observation that wheat protein binds selectively to connective tissue fibres in cryostat sections of mammalian tissues. Sera containing antibodies to gliadin give a reticulin pattern of staining on section pretreated with wheat gliadin if tested by indirect immunofluorescence. Antibodies to gliadin were detected in this manner in sera fom all of 32 children with coeliac disease, in 16 of whom a provisional diagnosis had been given and in 16 an established diagnosis confirmed by gluten challenge. The incidence of reticulin antibodies detected on untreated sections (in the absence of gliadin) was only 28%. Gliadin antibodies were also present in sera from 15% of 152 children with gastroenterological disorders other than coeliac disease, but most of these non-positive results for coeliac disease were in patients with transient gluten in tolerance, cows' milk-sensitive enteropathy, or Crohn's disease. This new test, although not specific for coeliac disease, promises to be of value as an indicator of gluten sensitivity, and when negative excludes a diagnosis of coeliac disease. It may also be useful in monitoring diet, and in determining when rebiopsy after gluten challenge in appropriate.
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