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  • Jefferson Adams

    Can a Gluten-Free Diet Help Ataxia Patients?

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      What is the Effect of gluten-free diet on cerebellar MR spectroscopy in gluten ataxia?


    Photo: CC--Dr Ramneet Bullar--Veteran's Affairs
    Caption: Photo: CC--Dr Ramneet Bullar--Veteran's Affairs

    Celiac.com 08/10/2017 - Gluten ataxia is defined as sporadic ataxia with positive antigliadin antibodies without an alternative cause. Gluten ataxia patients often receive MRS at baseline and again after a period on a gluten-free diet.

    A research team recently set out to evaluate the effect of gluten free diet on magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of the cerebellum in patients with gluten ataxia.



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    The research team included M Hadjivassiliou, RA Grünewald, DS Sanders, P Shanmugarajah, N Hoggard. They are with the Academic Departments of Neurosciences (M.H., R.A.G., P.S.), Gastroenterology (D.S.S.), and Neuroradiology (N.H.), Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, UK.

    The team included 117 consecutive patients with gluten ataxia in their report. Sixty-three followed a strict a gluten-free diet with elimination of antigliadin antibodies, 35 ate a gluten-free diet, but still tested positive for antigliadin antibodies, while 19 patients were not following a gluten-free diet.

    The N-acetylaspartate (NAA)/creatine (Cr) area ratio from the cerebellar vermis increased in 62 out of 63 (98%) patients on strict a gluten-free diet, in 9 of 35 (26%) patients on a gluten-free diet, but positive antibodies, and in only 1 of 19 (5%) patients not on a gluten-free diet. The NAA/Cr ratio decreased in all 14 ataxia control patients (cerebellar variant of multisystem atrophy), while the researchers saw no differences in the MRS results between patients with celiac disease and those without.

    Better NAA/Cr ratios seen on follow-up scans supports previous findings that gluten ataxia patients see clinical improvement a gluten-free diet

    Such improvements can occur regardless of existing enteropathy, so patients with positive serology and negative duodenal biopsy should still maintain a strict a gluten-free diet.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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