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Return to Neurological Variants of celiac disease

PolyNeuropathy in Celiac Disease

 Antibodies to gangliosides and Purkinje cells have been reported in patients with celiac disease (CD) with neuropathy and ataxia, respectively. The response of neurological symptoms and antibody titers to a gluten-free diet is still controversial. ; Four patients, all males, had electrophysiological evidence of neuropathy; three had been on a gluten-free diet for several months, and one was newly diagnosed. One had reduced tendon reflexes; another complained of distal paresthesias. With regard to anti-ganglioside antibodies, three patients had a moderate increase in antibodies without symptoms or signs of neuropathy. .

 In conclusion, the preliminary results of this prospective study indicate that neuropathy, usually subclinical, may accompany CD. Antibody titers do not seem to correlate with neurological symptoms/signs or diet. Ongoing follow-up will help confirm these data and clarify the role, if any, of antibodies in neurological involvement in CD .

CIDPUSA Concludes that other treatments are needed to help these patients rather then the usual Gluten free diet. IVIg is the super Gun here.

Celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity, is an autoimmune inflammatory disease that damages the villi - the small, finger-like projections that line the small intestine. For people with celiac disease, eating foods containing gluten - a protein found in wheat and other grains - sets off an autoimmune reaction that causes the villi to shorten and eventually flatten. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, regardless of the quantity of food eaten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to serious long-term conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, anemia and seizures, and may become life threatening.

Celiac disease is linked to a genetic pre-disposition for the disease. Individuals may show no signs of celiac disease until later in life, when symptoms appear, apparently triggered by surgery, viral infection, pregnancy, childbirth, or a stressful event. Infants and children with celiac disease may fail to grow and develop properly.

A recent study found that some people with celiac disease had neuropathic symptoms before the gastrointestinal symptoms of celiac disease appeared. The results of this study, and the fact that 10 percent of people with celiac disease suffer from an associated neurological condition (usually peripheral neuropathy or ataxia - a condition characterized by jerky, uncoordinated movements and gait), indicates that patients with neuropathy of an unknown cause should be tested for celiac disease.

Because celiac disease is common in Europe, it is now thought that the disorder has been significantly under-diagnosed in the United States. A study published in the February 10, 2003 Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that one in 133 Americans are at risk for celiac disease (up from earlier estimates of one in 250), yet only one in 4,700 Americans have been diagnosed with it.


(Not all symptoms and signs may be present.)

Celiac disease affects people differently. Symptoms may or may not show up in the digestive system, and some people who are affected with the disease may not appear to have symptoms.

  • Anemia
  • Change in weight
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation (or both)
  • Failure to thrive in infants or delayed growth
  • General weakness
  • Neuropathic symptoms
    • Burning, tingling and numbness in hands and feet
    • Loss of feeling in the hands and feet
    • Numbness, tingling or reduced sensation in the face and body
  • Oily, foul-smelling stools
  • Stomach problems, cramping, gas, distention, bloating, vomiting

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