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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Higher Rates of Celiac Disease in People with Multiple Sclerosis

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 05/11/2011 - People with multiple sclerosis and their first-generation relatives have higher rates of celiac disease than the general population, according to a report by a research team in Spain.

    For the study, a research team led by Dr. Luis Rodrigo of University Hospital, Central Asturias, Spain looked at rates of serological, genetic, and histological disease markers in 72 multiple sclerosis patients and 126 of their first-degree relatives. They then compared the results against data from 123 healthy control subjects.



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    The team found rates of celiac disease among multiple sclerosis patients that are 5 to 10 times higher than rates for the general population worldwide, which average between 1% and 2%.

    The team found similar levels of  HLA-DQ2 markers in both multiple sclerosis patients (29%) and controls (26%) (NS). They found eight multiple sclerosis patients (11.1%) who showed mild or moderate villous atrophy (Marsh III type) on duodenal biopsy. Results also showed that 26 of 126 first-degree relatives (32%) had celiac disease.

    Multiple Sclerosis patients also displayed increased frequency of circulating auto-antibodies such as anti-TPO in 19 (26%), ANA in 11 (15%) and AMA in 2 (3%).

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    I have both celiac disease and ms and have been wondering about this for years. Hank you so much for writing about this! I would love to hear about how others in this situation deal with this when it's so hard to cook. thank you again!

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    It seems more and more diseases are popping up relating to celiac and gluten. When will it be realized that its all interconnected.

    I couldn't agree more. It is high time we got answers, better diagnostic tools, and treatment. I have MS, my Mom has celiac disease, and I think there are a lot of food allergies that affect disease development. I can't get answers in the medical community. Seems no one wants to take that next step. Frustrating.

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    I wish this article went further. My mother, my sister and I have celiac disease. My 22 year old son was diagnosed with MS this summer. He refuses to eat gluten-free and it breaks my heart. I wonder if he could stabilize or even reverse some of his symptoms by changing his diet.

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    I was diagnosed with DH form of celiac disease one week ago.  My mother has MS.  Like many MS patients, she is Vitamin D deficient and of Scandinavian ancestry.  Since being put on a high dose Vitamin D regime, her MS has exacerbated less often and less severely than previously.  As celiac disease can cause malnutrition problems, I wonder if this is what could be causing or contributing to Vitamin D insufficiency in MS patients?  Thank you for all of the information on this site!   

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams

    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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    Scott Adams
    The following research was compiled by Don Wiss and posted on the Celiac Listserv news group:
    The MS/gluten/casein connection is mostly only anecdotal as it has never really been studied. This is what I have (much contributed by Ron Hoggan):
    (1) Roger MacDougall was a famous British playwright, who was diagnosed with MS in the 1950s. The doctors felt it was best to keep the information from him. They thought it was in his best interests not to tell him what he had. It was not until he was bedridden that he learned what illness he had. When he knew about it, he did some reading, and went on a gluten & casein free diet. He recovered almost totally. This is from Can a Gluten-Free Diet Help? How? by Lloyd Rosenvold, M.D., [Keats Publishing, 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT 06840-0876, 1992, ISBN 0-87983-538-9]. MacDougall eventually wrote a pamphlet titled My Fight Against Multiple Sclerosis, pub 1980 by Regenics Inc, Mansfield, Ohio. Rosenvold also includes some other anecdotes in his book.
    (2) In the Oct. 5, 1974, Lancet, Dr. Norman A. Mathesons letter Multiple Sclerosis and Diet was published on p. 831, wherein he outlined his having been diagnosed with MS and subsequently reading Roger MacDougalls story. He then described his return to good health and ended with: I thank Roger MacDougall, whose diet made it possible to carry out these observations.
    (3) Ashton Embry has written an article MS - probable cause and best-bet treatment in which he discusses the dietary and food allergy links to MS.
    (4) In Gluten Intolerance by Beatrice Trum Hunter, Keats Publishing Inc. New Canaan, CT. ISBN 0-87983435-8 She talks about a Dr. R. Shatin in Australia who has suggested that an inherited susceptibility to multiple sclerosis is from a primary lesion in the small intestine resulting from gluten intolerance, and that the demyelination is secondary. Shatin suggested that the high incidence of multiple sclerosis in Canada, Scotland and western Ireland may be related to the predominant consumption of Canadian hard wheat, which has the highest gluten content of all wheat varieties. In contrast, the incidence of multiple sclerosis is low among indigenous Equatorial Africans who mainly consume non-gluten containing grains such as millet.
    (5) In Multiple Sclerosis, by Jan de Vries, Mainstream Publishing, (Thorntons?) UK it recommends absolutely no gluten and very high reduction of dairy products, refined sugar, and saturated fats. He says that one of his most successful case studies, confirm that absolutely not one pinch if flour i.e. absolutely no gluten at all... otherwise you are deceiving yourself.
    (6) According to Dr. Joe Murray at the University of Iowa there is the possibility that the MS patient suffers from a neurological complication of undiagnosed celiac disease. About 5% of celiac patients get nerve damage that can vary from tingling and numbness in the feet to confusion, memory loss, dizziness and loss of balance, visual abnormalities. This sometimes happen in the absence of GI symptoms.
    (7) Lutz, W.J., The Colonization of Europe and Our Western Diseases, Medical Hypotheses, Vol. 45, pages 115-120, 1995
    Dr. Lutz argues that there is a clear, inverse relationship between civilisatory diseases and the length of time the people of a given region of Europe have had to adapt to the high carbohydrate diet associated with the cultivation of cereal grains that was begun in the Near East, and spread very slowly through Europe.
    I quote from the first page of the article:
    In over thirty years of clinical practice, I have found, as published in numerous papers and several books (3, 4), that diet works well against Crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, heart failure, acne and other problems.
    Don Wiss can e-mail a copy of the article text to those requesting.
    (8) There is a fellow named Dave Q that has recovered with a gluten-free diet and lots of supplements. He discusses this, along with other recovery stories.
    (9) There is supposedly a newsgroup for those interested in Natural Recovery of MS. Its alt.support.mult-sclerosis.alternatives. Ask your system administrator to add it if you cant find it. But it seems to be hard to find.
    (10) A page on Milk and MS is from the Carbondale Center for Macrobiotic Studies and blames dairy for the distribution of MS. Visit: http://www.macrobiotic.org/health3.html
    (11) The following is a list of articles in medical journals, which were published at about the time that prednisone became popular in the treatment of MS. They appear to connect MS with celiac-like intestinal morphology.
    Cook, Gupta, Pertschuk, Nidzgorski Multiple Sclerosis and Malabsorption Lancet; June 24, 1978, p. 1366 Fantelli, Mitsumoto & Sebek Multiple Sclerosis and Malabsorption Lancet May 13, 1978 p. 1039-1040 Davison, Humphrey, Livesedge et al. Multiple Sclerosis Research Elsevier Scientific Publishing New York, 1975 I find it curious that the connection between malabsorption and MS stopped at about the same time that prednisone and other such steroids became the treatment of choice for MS. As Im sure you know, prednisone incites the re-growth of the villi despite the ingestion of gluten, in the celiac gut. Investigators who did endoscopies on MS patients admit that they have not asked about the patients use of such drugs.
    (12) Some literature from the celiac view point:
    Drs. Cooke & Holmes in Celiac Disease 1984; Churchill Livingstone, NY say that 10% of celiacs have neuropathic symptoms. Many appear to be associated with demyelination. Fineli et. al. echo that figure in Adult celiac disease presenting as cerebellar syndrome Neurology 1980; 30: 245-249. Cooke & Holmes come right out and express some of their frustration with neurologists for ignoring the potiential for neuropathic celiac. A new school has emerged, on the heels of the following report: Hadjivassiliou, et. al. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet 1996; 347: 369-371 They found that 57 percent of those with neurological problems of unknown cause also had antibodies to gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Sixteen percent of them had celiac disease, a much higher level than normally found. Most of the patients with the anti-gliadin antibodies did not have other symptoms of celiac disease such as poor absorption of vitamins. (13) There is supposedly a book on MS written by a Greg Nooney, a fellow that has cured himself with a gluten-free diet. He may be in Colorado.


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 04/15/2011 - Celiac disease is associated with various autoimmune and neurological diseases. A team of researchers recently completed a study on the prevalence of celiac disease in a prospective series of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) patients and their first-degree relatives.
    The study team included Luis Rodrigo, Carlos Hernández-Lahoz, Dolores Fuentes, Noemí Alvarez, Antonio López-Vázquez, and Segundo González.
    They are affiliated variously with the departments of Gastroenterology, Immunology Services and Neurology at the Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA) in Oviedo, Spain.
    For the study, the team analyzed the prevalence of serological, histological and genetic celiac disease markers in 72 MS patients and 126 of their first-degree relatives. They then compared their results with data from 123 healthy control subjects.
    The results showed 7 MS patients (10%) with positive screens for tissue IgA-anti-transglutaminase-2 antibodies, compared with just 3 positive screens for healthy controls (2.4%) (p < 0.05). OR: 5.33 (CI-95%: 1.074-26.425).
    The team found no difference in HLA-DQ2 markers between MS patients (29%) and controls (26%) (NS). The team found 8 MS patients (11.1%) with mild or moderate villous atrophy (Marsh III type) in duodenal biopsies. Results also showed celiac disease in 23 of 126 first-degree relatives (32%).
    The data showed several other associated diseases, especially dermatitis 41 (57%) and iron deficiency anemia in 28 (39%) MS patients.
    MS patients also showed increased frequency of circulating auto-antibodies such as anti-TPO in 19 (26%), ANA in 11 (15%) and AMA in 2 (3%).
    The increased prevalence of celiac disease in MS patients and in their first-degree relatives suggests that early detection and dietary treatment of celiac disease in antibody-positive MS patients is advisable.
    Source:

    BMC Neurology 2011, 11:31doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-31


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