Celiac.com 10/12/2015 - There's been a good deal of attention devoted to gluten sensitivity in people without celiac disease, but researchers still don't know much about potential risks associated with the condition.

Photo: CC--Arjan RichterA research team recently looked at the prevalence of autoimmune diseases among patients with non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS), and investigated whether they carry antinuclear antibodies (ANA). The research team included A. Carroccio, A. D'Alcamo, F. Cavataio, M. Soresi, A. Seidita, C. Sciumè, G. Geraci, G. Iacono, and P. Mansueto.

They are variously affiliated with the DiBiMIS University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy; the department of Internal Medicine at Giovanni Paolo II Hospital in Sciacca, Italy; the DiBiMIS University of Palermo, in Palermo, Italy; the department of Pediatric Gastroenterology in ARNAS Di Cristina Hospital, Palermo, Italy; and the Surgery Department at the University of Palermo in Palermo, Italy.

The research team conducted a retrospective study of 131 patients diagnosed with NCWS, 121 of whom were female. The average patient age was 29.1 years, and the study was conducted at 2 hospitals in Italy from January 2001 through June 2011.

The team also collected data from 151 patients with celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, who served as control subjects. They reviewed patient medical records to identify those with autoimmune diseases. They then conducted a prospective study of 42 patients, 38 of whom were female, with an average age of 34 years, who had been diagnosed with NCWS from July 2011 through March 2014 at 3 hospitals in Italy.

For the prospective study, one hundred age- and sex-matched subjects with celiac disease or IBS served as control subjects.

The team collected serum samples from all subjects and measured ANA levels using immunofluorescence analysis. Participants completed a questionnaire and the team reviewed patient medical records to identify those with autoimmune diseases.

In the retrospective analysis, about 30% of patients with either NCWS or celiac disease developed autoimmune diseases; mainly Hashimoto's thyroiditis, of which there were 29 cases. Compare this with about 4% of IBS who developed an autoimmune disease (P < .001).

In the prospective study, 24% of patients with NCWS, 20% of patients with celiac disease, and 2% of patients with IBS developed autoimmune diseases (P < .001).

In the retrospective study, serum samples tested positive for ANA in 46% of subjects with NCWS (median titer, 1:80), 24% of subjects with celiac disease (P < .001), and just 2% of subjects IBS (P < .001).

In the prospective study, serum samples were positive for ANA in 28% of subjects with NCWS, 7.5% of subjects with celiac disease (P = .02), and 6% of subjects with IBS (P = .005 vs patients with NCWS).

From these results, they conclude that positive ANA results are associated with the presence of the HLA DQ2/DQ8 haplotypes (P < .001).

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