Celiac.com 02/02/2012 - A team of researchers recently conducted a prospective controlled study on a gluten-free diet and autoimmune thyroiditis in patients with celiac disease.
Prior to the study, there had been contradictory data regarding the ways in which early diagnosis and a gluten-free diet might slow the progression of associated autoimmune diseases in celiac disease.
The research team investigated the course of autoimmune thyroid diseases in newly diagnosed celiac disease patients, both before and after gluten-free dietary treatment.
For their study, the team examined twenty-seven adults with newly diagnosed celiac disease, both at the time of diagnosis and after one year on gluten-free diet.
They also recorded and examined previously diagnosed and subclinical autoimmune thyroid diseases. The team used ultrasound to measure thyroid gland volume and echo-genicity. They also measured autoantibodies against celiac disease and thyroiditis, and conducted thyroid function tests.
As a control group, they enrolled twenty-seven non-celiac subjects, all of whom followed a normal, gluten-containing diet.
The data showed that, upon diagnosis, ten of 27 celiac disease patients had either manifest (n = 7) or subclinical (n = 3) thyroid diseases. Only three of 27 control subjects (10/27 vs. 3/27, p = 0.055) had thyroid disease.
After treatment with a gluten-free diet, thyroid volume continued to decrease significantly in the patients with celiac disease compared with the control subjects, indicating the progression of thyroid gland atrophy regardless of the gluten-free diet.
Overall, celiac patients faced a higher risk of thyroid autoimmune disorders than non-celiac control subjects. Moreover, a gluten-free diet did not seem to stop or reverse the progression of autoimmune disease after one year.