Celiac.com 10/28/2010 - A team of researchers recently found that gluten sensitivity can play a role in triggering a certain type of neurologic dysfunction, called sensory ganglionopathy, and that the condition may respond to a strict gluten-free diet.
The research team was made up of M. Hadjivassiliou, MD, D.G. Rao, MD, S.B. Wharton, PhD, D.S. Sanders, MD, R.A. Grünewald, DPhil, and A.G.B. Davies-Jones, MD. They are affiliated variously with the Departments of Neurology, Neurophysiology, Neuropathology, and Gastroenterology at Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, UK.
Neurological issues are common in people with celiac disease and gluten-sensitivity. On eof the most common neurological issues in these people is called peripheral neuropathy. The most common type of neuropathy seen in people with gluten sensitivity is sensorimotor axonal.
The team reviewed data on 409 patients with different types of peripheral neuropathies. All of these patients had been followed for a number of years in dedicated gluten sensitivity/neurology and neuropathy clinics.
Fifty-three of these patients (13%) showed clinical and neurophysiologic evidence of sensory ganglionopathy. Seventeen of these fifty-three patients (32%) showed positive blood screens for gluten sensitivity.
The median age of those with gluten sensitivity was 67 years, with symptom onset starting at 58 years on average.
Seven of those with positive blood screen evidence gluten sensitivity showed enteropathy upon biopsy. Fifteen patients went on a gluten-free diet, resulting in stabilization of the neuropathy in eleven of the fifteen.
The remaining four patients did not follow the gluten-free diet and their conditions worsened, as did the two patients who declined dietary treatment. Autopsy tissue from three patients showed inflammation in the dorsal root ganglia with degeneration of the posterior columns of the spinal cord.
These results led the team to conclude that sensory ganglionopathy can result from gluten sensitivity and may respond positively to a strict gluten-free diet.
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