Human leukocyte antigen typing using buccal swabs as accurate and non-invasive substitute for venipuncture in children at risk for celiac disease

Marlou P. M. Adriaanse*, Anita C. E. Vreugdenhil, Veronique Vastmans, Lisette Groeneveld, Stefan Molenbroeck, Dina A. Schott, Christien Voorter, Marcel G. J. Tilanus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background and Aim: Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) typing is an important step in the diagnostic algorithm for celiac disease (CD) and is also used for screening purposes. Collection of blood is invasive and accompanied with emotional impact especially in children. Genetic technological progress now enables HLA typing from buccal cell samples. This study evaluated the reliability and feasibility of HLA typing for CD-associated HLA polymorphisms using buccal swabs as routine test in high-risk individuals. Methods: Blood and buccal swabs of 77 children and adolescents with high risk for CD were prospectively collected in this cohort study. Buccal swab collection was performed either by the investigator at the outpatient clinic or by the patient or its parents at home. To evaluate the possibility of self-administration, three families performed the test at home. DNA was extracted using an adapted QIAamp method. Quantity, quality, and purity of DNA were recorded. HLA-DRB1, HLA-DQA1, and HLA-DQB1 typing was examined on buccal cell-derived and blood-derived DNA at low and, if necessary, high resolution level, using sequence-specific oligonucleotide and sequence-based typing, respectively. Results: DNA isolation using buccal swabs yielded a good quality and sufficient quantity of DNA to perform HLA-DQ typing in all individuals. HLA typing results on buccal cell-derived DNA were identical to typing on blood-derived DNA, also for the self-administered samples. Conclusion: Introduction of the buccal swab test for HLA typing of CD risk in routine diagnostics can omit the current venipuncture and enables self-administration at home. Therefore, the buccal swab test is beneficial for individuals with a clinical suspicion for CD, as well as for screening purposes in high-risk populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1711-1716
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • buccal swab
  • diagnostic accuracy
  • HLA-DQ alpha-chains
  • HLA-DRB1 chains
  • HLA-DQ beta-chains
  • non-invasive


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