E. Israeli, T. Hershcovici, I. Grotto, Z. Rouach, D. Branski and E. Goldin
Background: In the last decade the diagnosis of celiac disease has increasingly been made in adults.
Objectives: To determine disease prevalence (including silent and potential disease) in this population group.
Methods: We performed serologic screening of celiac disease in a representative and homogenous sample of a young adult general population in Israel, namely, 18 year old military conscripts, in 2003. Serologic screening was performed on serum samples randomly obtained from 850 healthy recruits (male/female = 1.1). Immunoglobulin A anti-tissue transglutaminase was determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In cases of IgA deficiency, IgG anti-endomysial antibodies were determined. A small intestinal biopsy was offered to all patients with positive serology.
Results: The prevalence of overt CD diagnosed prior to recruitment was 0.12% (0.1% in men and 0.14% in women). The overall prevalence based on positive serology was 1.1%. Six of nine subjects with positive serology agreed to undergo endoscopy and intestinal biopsies. In all cases, biopsies were compatible with celiac disease (five biopsies were graded as Marsh 3a and one as Marsh 3b). One subject previously reporting irritable bowel-like symptoms was diagnosed with overt atypical CD. The prevalence of overt CD diagnosed by screening was 0.12%. The ratio of overt to silent CD was 1:8. No cases of potential disease were encountered.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that CD is highly prevalent in the young adult population in Israel. Serologic screening for CD is a reliable and simple method for diagnosing this disease before symptoms or complications develop.
 Ig = immunoglobulin
 CD = celiac disease