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    Studies Show High Instance of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Osteoporosis in Patients with Celiac Disease

    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac.com 06/08/2007 - In the first study, doctors Ibrahim S. Alghafeer, and Leonard H. Sigal conducted a routine gastroenterology follow-up of 200 adult celiac patients. Arthritis was present in 52 of 200 patients, or 26%. The arthritis was peripheral in 19 patients, Axial in 15 patients, and an overlap of the two in 18 patients. The doctors found that joint disease was much less common in those patients who were following a gluten-free diet (1).

    A related study by Usai, et al found that 63% of patients with celiac disease show axial joint inflammation (2).

    In that study, doctors conducted bone scintigraphy using 99m Tc methylene diphosphonate. 14 of these patients (65%) signs compatible with sacroiliitis. 11 of the 14 suffered from low back pain. In five of the 11 patients with low back pain, scintigraphy was negative. Sacroiliac radiographs were conducted on 4 of those 5 patients, and all of them were shown to have bilateral sacroiliitis. One patient had rheumatoid arthritis, but all patients in the studied showed negative HLA-B27 results.

    Rheumatoid Symptoms Less Common in Celiacs on Gluten-free Diet

    In patients with gluten enteropathy, symptoms of arthritis and other rheumatic complaints are common, and the associated clinical abnormalities routinely show improvement on a gluten-free diet. (3,4,5)

    In 9 of 74 patients with spondyloarthropathies, results show increased level of antigliadin antibodies, with 1 patient showing elevated antiendomysium antibodies and biopsy proven celiac disease (6). These results show that antiendomysial antibody testing is recommended as a screening tool in patients with suspected gluten enteropathy. Another study found that 3.3% of sprue patients had Sjogrens syndrome (7).

    55 celiac patients who were tested for serial bone density showed osteoporosis in 50% of men and 47% of women. These findings confirm that celiac disease was an independent risk factor for osteoporosis (8).

    Bulletin on the Rheumatic Diseases, Volume 51, Number 2.

    • Usai P. Adult celiac disease is frequently associated with sacroiliitis. Dig Dis Sci 1995;40:1906-8
    • Lubrano E, Ciacci C, Ames PR, et al. The arthritis of celiac disease: prevalence and pattern in 200 adult patients. Br J Rheumatol 1996;35:1314-8.
    • Usai P. Adult celiac disease is frequently associated with sacroiliitis. Dig Dis Sci 1995;40:1906-8.
    • Bagnato gluten-free, Quattrocchi E, Gulli S, et al. Unusual polyarthritis as a unique clinical manifestation of celiac disease. Rheumatol Int 2000;20:29-30.
    • Borg AA, Dawes PT, Swan CH, Hothersall TE. Persistent monoarthritis and occult celiac disease. Postgrad Med J 1994;70:51-3.
    • Collin P, Korpela M, Hallstrom O, et al. Rheumatic complaints as a presenting symptom in patients with celiac disease. Scan J Rheumatol 1992;21:20-3.
    • Kallilorm R, Uibo O, Uibo R. Clin Rheumatol 2000;19:118-22.
    health writer who lives in San Francisco and is a frequent author of articles for Celiac.com.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided 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 Dangerous Grains by James Braly, MD and Ron Hoggan, MA.

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