Am J Gastroenterol 2000;95:1742-1748.

Celiac.com 09/20/2000 - A new study published in the July issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology by Dr. Vincenzo Toscano and colleagues at the Universita La Sapienza in Rome indicates that adolescent patients with celiac disease have elevated levels of anti-thyroid and anti-pancreatic autoantibodies. The results indicate that gluten plays a key role in the observed autoimmunity, and may in some cases result in organ dysfunction.

Previous studies have shown that antibodies directed against endocrine glands develop in a high proportion of patients who have celiac disease. In many cases a gluten-free diet is abandoned by many patients in adolescence, and the researchers studied such a group to determine whether anti-endocrine antibodies and endocrine function were affected by the presence or absence of gluten. Their study indicates that 9 of 44 celiac disease patients tested positive for at least one anti-thyroid autoantibody. The same numbers of patients tested positive for anti-pancreatic autoantibodies. Additionally, one patient was diabetic, two others exhibited preclinical hypothyroidism, and one had clinical hypothyroidism.

Further, 10 of 19 patients on a diet containing gluten were positive for at least one antibody, in comparison with five of 25 patients on the gluten-free diet, and the distribution of autoantibodies was significantly different between the two groups. Dr. Toscanos team concludes that gluten consumption is associated with a high prevalence of anti-endocrine autoantibodies.

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