The management of complicated Celiac disease

Department of Gastroenterology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Digestive Diseases (Impact Factor: 1.83). 01/2007; 25(3):230-6. DOI: 10.1159/000103891
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Refractory celiac disease (RCD) is being defined as persisting or recurring villous atrophy with crypt hyperplasia and increased intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) in spite of a strict gluten-free diet (GFD) for >12 months or when severe persisting symptoms necessitate intervention independent of the duration of the GFD. RCD may not respond primarily or secondarily to GFD. All other causes of malabsorption must be excluded and additional features supporting the diagnosis of CD must be looked for, including the presence of antibodies in the untreated state and the presence of celiac-related HLA-DQ markers. In contrast to patients with a high percentage of aberrant T-cells, patients with RCD I seem to profit from an immunosuppressive treatment. RCD II is usually resistant to medical therapies. Response to corticosteroid treatment does not exclude underlying enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma. Cladribine seems to have a role, although it is less than optimal in the treatment of these patients. It may be considered, however, as the only treatment thus far studied that showed significant reduction of aberrant T cells, seems to be well tolerated, and may have beneficial long-term effects in a subgroup of patients showing significant reduction of the aberrant T-cell population. Autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT) seems promising in those patients with persisting high percentages of aberrant T cells. The first group of patients treated with ASCT showed improvement in the small intestinal histology, together with an impressive clinical improvement. However, it remains to be proven if this therapy delays or prevents lymphoma development.

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    • "The most common symptoms in RCD include persistent diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and involuntary weight loss [13]. Moreover, fatigue, malaise, anaemia, hypoalbuminemia, vitamin deficiencies, and coexisting autoimmune disorders are frequently seen [13] [14]. The diagnosis RCDII becomes more likely when severe malnutrition , protein losing enteropathy, and ulcerative jejunitis are present [9]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Refractory celiac disease (RCD) occurs when both symptoms and intestinal damage persist or recur despite strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. In RCD, the immunophenotype of intraepithelial lymphocytes may be normal and polyclonal (RCD I) or abnormal and monoclonal (RCD II). The aim is to describe the clinical characteristics, treatment, and long-term outcome in a large single-center cohort of patients with RCD. We compared the clinical characteristics and outcome in 57 patients with RCD: 42 with RCD I and 15 with RCD II. Fifteen of 57 patients died during follow-up (n=8 with RCD I and n=7 with RCD II), each within the first 2 years after RCD diagnosis. The overall 5-year cumulative survival is 70%, 80%, and 45% for the entire cohort, RCD I, and RCD II, respectively. The refractory state itself and enteropathy-associated T-cell lymphoma (EATL) were the most common causes of death, respectively. A new staging system is proposed based on the cumulative effect of 5 prognostic factors investigated at the time of the refractory state diagnosis: for patients in stages I, II, and III, the 5-year cumulative survival rate was 96%, 71%, and 19%, respectively (P< .0001). RCD is associated with high mortality with RCD II having an especially poor prognosis because of the development of EATL. A new staging model is proposed that may improve the precision of prognosis in patients with RCD.
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