Enterolab Gluten/Antigenic Food Sensitivity Stool/Gene Panel TestLast week when I had a routine appointment with my general practitioner Doctor, I asked him if he could run an HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigens) DQ2 and DQ8 haplotypes genetic test, just out of curiosity. I wondered which of these genetic markers I carry for a predisposition to Celiac Disease and gluten-sensitivity. This was mainly for curiosity sake, and I figured that since I had health insurance, I might as well try to get the test performed under a plan I already pay for.
So, my generalist tells me that he doesn't run any type of genetic tests, and refers me to a doctor in the GI (Gastro-Intestinal) department to see if they will run such a test. I received a call from the GI doctor today, and when I mentioned wanting the test, he said they don't run genetic tests because they are "so expensive" to run. I asked him what "so expensive" was, and where he got that opinion from. He said he heard from other practitioners that the tests were "really expensive", although he had no first-hand experience with them. I had him quantify what he thought "really expensive" was, and he said "a couple thousand dollars or so".
Well, at this point I pretty much knew he was uninformed and tried to clue him in on the fact that such tests really are not nearly that expensive. I already knew that Enterolab offers a gluten-sensitivity gene test for $149.00 [UPDATE: I originally wrote this blog in June 2007 when the price was $149, and now it is STILL $149 as of January 2017. Somewhat Impressive. Enterolabs also offers more detailed analysis and genetic testing options too, at the link I provided] and told the doctor this. His first question was "is that a reputable firm?". Well, I sure hope so, as I have heard about it from a lot of people on the forums and elsewhere. Seems like it's not a very complicated test to take a swab from inside your mouth, and analyze the DNA for a couple genetic markers. These days, this should be rather straight-forward.
So, even though my health-provider (and health-insurance) won't cover the Celiac-Disease predisposition / gluten-sensitivity predisposition gene-test, a doctor in the GI department at my provider has at least now heard that the tests are lower priced than he thought they were. Who knows if that'll ever make a difference as to whether my insurer will ever offer or cover such a test in the future, or whether the information went in one ear and out the other, but I tried to get him to at least consider the idea.
Also, to be clear, I understand that a gene-test of this type is not a "front-line" test for Celiac. The reason this is the case is that even though you have one or both genetic markers, that does not necessarily mean you'll have Celiac Disease. But, what it can be quite useful for is to eliminate Celiac as a possibility when you have neither marker (the lack of both the DQ2 and DQ8 markers means with 99% probability that you'll not have a gluten problem / Celiac).
I think I'll go ahead and order the Enterolab test sometime in the coming weeks just to satisfy my curiosity. I figure, for $149, it'd be interesting to find out what genetic analysis has to say about my likelihood of having this condition. There are so many people in my extended family with the problem, I figure at least one of the markers must be present in the gene-pool somewhere.
What will knowing the details do for me?... not much, aside from satisfying a bit of curiosity, and giving me a bit more hands-on experience with some testing procedures.