Celiac.com 08/11/2005 – Researchers in the United Kingdom screened 224 patients with various forms of ataxia (59 with familial, 132 sporadic idiopathic, and 33 with clinically probable cerebellar variant of multiple system atrophy MSA-C) for the presence of antigliadin antibodies and found that 24% of the ataxia patients were sensitive to gluten, and 72% of them had the HLA DQ2 genetic marker. Their results were compared with those of 1,200 healthy controls. Among the familial ataxia group 8 or 59 (14%), 54 of 132 (41%) of the sporadic idiopathic group, 5 of 33 (15%) in the MSA-C group, and 149 of the 1,200 (1.24%) controls, screened positive for antigliadin antibodies. The difference in prevalence between the idiopathic sporadic groups and the other groups was highly significant. Gastrointestinal symptoms were present in only 13% of the ataxia patients. MRI testing found atrophy of the cerebellum in 79% and white matter hyperintensities in 19% of the ataxia patients, and 45% of patients had neurophysiological evidence of a sensorimotor axonal neuropathy.
The researchers conclude that gluten ataxia is the single most common cause of sporadic idiopathic ataxia, and antigliadin antibody testing is should be done immediately on everyone with symptoms of sporadic ataxia.