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Neurological Damage Caused By Celiac Disease Not Reversed By Gluten-free Diet

Posted by , 28 December 2006 · 1,033 views

Celiac.com 12/28/2006 – Antonio Tursi and colleagues at the Digestive Endoscopy Unit, Lorenzo Bonomo Hospital, Andria, (BA), Italy have published a study which concludes that any neurological damage caused by celiac disease may be irreversible—even after treatment with a gluten-free diet. Although the study is relatively small, its conclusions are important—especially to those who suffer from the neurological effects of celiac disease. More research needs to be done to determine why antineuronal antibodies persist in treated celiacs. It would be interesting to see if the removal of other common offending proteins (such as casein, soy, corn, eggs, etc.) from the diets of the patients in this study would have any effect on their antineuronal antibody levels.

The following article that was recently published on Celiac.com may provide further insight:
Below is the abstract of the study:

Dig Dis Sci. 2006 Sep 12
Peripheral Neurological Disturbances, Autonomic Dysfunction, and Antineuronal Antibodies in Adult Celiac Disease Before and After a Gluten-Free Diet.
Tursi A, Giorgetti GM, Iani C, Arciprete F, Brandimarte G, Capria A, Fontana L.
Digestive Endoscopy Unit, Lorenzo Bonomo Hospital, Andria, (BA), Italy.

Thirty-two consecutive adult celiac disease patients (pts), complaining of peripheral neuropathy (12 pts), autonomic dysfunction (17 pts), or both (3 pts), were evaluated to assess the presence of neurological damage (by clinical neurological evaluation and electrophysiological study) and antineuronal antibodies and to assess the effect of a gluten-free diet on the course of the neurological symptoms and on antineuronal antibodies. At entry, 12 of 32 (38%) pts showed signs and symptoms of neurological damage: 7 of 12 (58%), peripheral neurological damage; 3 of 12 (25%), autonomic dysfunction; and 2 (17%), both peripheral neurological damage and autonomic dysfunction. The overall TNS score was 105 at entry. Anti-GM1 antibodies were present in 5 of 12 (42%) pts: 3 showed peripheral neurological damage and 2 showed both peripheral neurological damage and autonomic dysfunction. One year after the gluten-free diet was started, histological lesions were still present in only 10 of 12 (83%) pts. TNS score was 99, 98, 98, and 101 at the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th month after the gluten-free diet was started, so it did not improve throughout the follow-up. None of the pts showed disappearance of antineuronal antibodies throughout the follow-up. We conclude that adult celiac disease patients may show neurological damage and presence of antineuronal antibodies. Unfortunately, these findings do not disappear with a gluten-free diet.

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Copyright © 2006 Scott Adams. All rights reserved worldwide.

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37 patients is a rather small number to draw conclusions from. Still, since the problem was so pervasive, I believe it has merit, which is rather disheartening. I was hoping that neurological damage from celiac disease can be reversed with a strict gluten-free diet, and it appears that it isn't likely to happen.

I have no idea if my Tourette syndrome was originally caused by neurological damage from gluten or not, but think it is possible. Only my siblings (out of six brothers and one sister) who have celiac disease symptoms as well (but won't get tested) also have tics, which I find rather interesting now that I think about it.

And even though I find that my tics have slightly decreased on a gluten-free (and lectin and salicylate free as well) diet, they are still very much there.
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It has been reversed in a few cases although this is quite rare. My mother and her sister both had coeliac disease. My aunt was diagnosed at a younger age and my mother diagnosed in her early 30's when she only just started to develop symtoms. The damage must have already been done as she developed neurological problems at around age 43. She had a few seizures and also developed gluten ataxia and had a fast decline and died at age 48yrs. My aunt who had been on a gluten free diet for longer started to develop gluten ataxia at around age 55yrs and died at 60yrs. Brain scans revealed atrophy of the frontal lobes. There is now a 50% chance of myself my brother and my Aunts two daughters also having coeliac disease and so far none of us have been tested. My aunt and mother were diagnosed as having frontal lobe dementia but all the symptoms were ataxia, what is the difference?

After researching into this I realised how serious this disease is and am trying to persuade them all to get tested as soon as possible and will have a test myself as soon as I can.
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I don't like this. I have been battling brain fog for the past 6 mths and increasing I really thought it was stress then to find out it is a side effect of Celiac Disease. I'm 32 I shouldn't be mixing up words, forgetting where I parked my car and unable to finish a sentence b/c I forgot what I was talking about. I was sooooo hoping these symptoms would go away. I still Hope they will go away. I feel so stupid at times and I know I'm not but it happens at the most inconvient times. It is very disheartening for me.
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