Celiac.com 11/22/2009 - Celiac disease has been associated with numerous other auto-immune disorders. Recently, there appeared the case of a 40-yr-old competitive strongman with celiac disease, who responded to a gluten-free diet, but developed profound and generalized motor weakness with acetylcholine receptor antibody positive myasthenia gravis, a disorder reported to occur in about 1 in 5000 people.

A team of researchers set out to further explore this possible relationship between myasthenia gravis and celiac disease via serological study.

The research team was made up of Hugh J Freeman, Helen R Gillett, Peter M Gillett, Joel Oger of the Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology and Neurology) at Canada's University of British Columbia.

The researchers performed celiac disease screens on frozen stored serum samples from 23 acetylcholine receptor antibody positive myasthenia gravis patients with no intestinal
symptoms.

They examined both endomysial and tissue transglutaminase antibodies. One in 23 samples (or, about 4.3%) tested positive for both IgA-endomysial and IgA tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Subsequent endoscopic study showed duodenal mucosal scalloping, while biopsies confirmed the histopathological changes of celiac disease. 

From this, they concluded that celiac disease and myasthenia gravis may occur together more often than is currently understood. Muscle weakness in celiac disease may be a sign of possible occult myasthenia gravis, even in the absence of intestinal symptoms.

Source:
World J Gastroenterol 2009 October 14; 15(38): 4741-4744

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