Article

Celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease.

Department of Gastroenterology, Singleton Hospital, Swansea, United Kingdom.
Clinical Medicine &amp Research 11/2007; 5(3):184-92. DOI: 10.3121/cmr.2007.738
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Celiac disease (CD) or gluten sensitive enteropathy is relatively common in western populations with prevalence around 1%. With the recent availability of sensitive and specific serological testing, many patients who are either asymptomatic or have subtle symptoms can be shown to have CD. Patients with CD have modest increases in risks of malignancy and mortality compared to controls. The mortality among CD patients who comply poorly with a gluten-free diet is greater than in compliant patients. The pattern of presentation of CD has altered over the past three decades. Many cases are now detected in adulthood during investigation of problems as diverse as anemia, osteoporosis, autoimmune disorders, unexplained neurological syndromes, infertility and chronic hypertransaminasemia of uncertain cause. Among autoimmune disorders, increased prevalence of CD has been found in patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes mellitus, autoimmune liver diseases and inflammatory bowel disease. Prevalence of CD was noted to be 1% to 19% in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus, 2% to 5% in autoimmune thyroid disorders and 3% to 7% in primary biliary cirrhosis in prospective studies. Conversely, there is also an increased prevalence of immune based disorders among patients with CD. The pathogenesis of co-existent autoimmune thyroid disease and CD is not known, but these conditions share similar HLA haplotypes and are associated with the gene encoding cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated antigen-4. Screening high risk patients for CD, such as those with autoimmune diseases, is a reasonable strategy given the increased prevalence. Treatment of CD with a gluten-free diet should reduce the recognized complications of this disease and provide benefits in both general health and perhaps life expectancy. It also improves glycemic control in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus and enhances the absorption of medications for associated hypothyroidism and osteoporosis. It probably does not change the natural history of associated autoimmune disorders.

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