METHODS: Healthy young adult volunteers between the ages of 18-30 years were consecutively recruited from June 2012 to May 2014 at the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur. Serum samples from all the participants were tested for anti-gliadin antibody immunoglobulin A/immunoglobulin G (IgA/IgG) and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody (tTG) IgA/IgG. Samples positive for both anti-gliadin and anti-tTG were further validated for anti-human endomysial IgA antibodies (EmA). Serological diagnosis of CD was made when anti-gliadin, anti-tTG and anti-EmA were positive.
RESULTS: 562 qualified participants with mean age 24 ± 2.4 years old were recruited into our study. CD was found in 7 participants where most of them were asymptomatic and unaware of their CD status. The median of anti-gliadin and anti-tTG IgA/IgG value was 38.2 U/ml (interquartile range, 28.3-60.4 U/ml) and 49.2 U/ml (interquartile range, 41.1-65.9 U/ml), respectively. Seroprevalence of CD antibodies was 1.9% (6 out of 324) in female while only 0.4% (1 out of 238) in male. Seroprevalence among Malay was 0.8% (2 of 236), Chinese was 1.7% (3 of 177) and Indian was 1.3% (2 of 149). Overall, seroprevalence of CD antibodies in healthy asymptomatic adults in the Malaysian population was 1.25% (95% CI, 0.78%-1.72%). No significant relationship was discovered between CD and H. pylori infection.
CONCLUSIONS: The seroprevalence of CD antibodies in healthy young adults in the Malaysian population was 1.25% (1 in 100). CD is underdiagnosed and it could be a much greater problem in Malaysia than previously thought.