The Prevalence of Celiac Disease in Northern Iran

Shima Mehrabi, Mehdi Nikkhah, Hossein Ajdarkosh, Nima Motamed, Mahmoodreza Khoonsari, Amirhossein Faraji, Mansooreh Maadi, Maryam Mehrabi, Mohammad Hadi Karbalaie Niya, Bahareh Amirkalali, Elham Sobhrakhshankhah, Fahimeh Safarnezhad Tameshkel, Farhad Zamani


Background :

Celiac disease is a small bowel disorder that occurs upon exposure to dietary gluten and is followed by reduced absorption capacity of the intestine. Serological tests are usually used to assess the prevalence of the disease; however, serological tests without pathological results cannot give a precise assessment. In this regard, we attempted to determine the prevalence of celiac disease in the northern regions of Iran by performing a biopsy among adults with positive serological tests.

Materials and Methods:

This was a population-based cross-sectional study. Serum level of tissue transglutaminase IgA (or, tTg-IgA) was assessed in 5148 individuals, and those with a positive serological test (serum anti-tTG IgA>20 IU/mL) underwent a biopsy during upper gastrointestinal (GI) endoscopy. Symptoms and other accompanying disorders were also assessed in this study.  


Among the 5148 participants, 23 patients (12 men) had positive anti-tTG IgA test (0.4%) with a mean age of 45.90±12.45 years. The most common symptoms among the 23 individuals were abdominal distension (100%), abdominal pain (78.26%), chronic constipation (60.86%), and three (13.04%) of them had iron deficiency. 16 individuals out of the 23 accepted to undergo a biopsy during upper GI endoscopy. The pathology results showed that eight (four men) of them had biopsy-proven celiac disease (0.15%). The second serum IgA anti-tTG test was negative in individuals with negative pathologies.


The prevalence of celiac disease in Northern Iran was 0.4% and 0.15% based on serological and pathological results, respectively. Half of the patients with positive serum IgA anti-tTG test had negative pathological results, indicating the need to rely on a pathological assessment for a definite diagnosis.


Celiac disease, Prevalence, Serology, Pathology

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