Celiac.com 10/27/2014 - There have been a few reports tying cortical myoclonus with ataxia to celiac disease. Such reports also suggest that the former is unresponsive to a gluten-free diet.
A team of researchers recently set out to determine if there is any significant connection between the two conditions. The research team included Ptolemaios G. Sarrigiannis, Nigel Hoggard, Daniel Aeschlimann, David S. Sanders, Richard A. Grünewald, Zoe C. Unwin, and Marios Hadjivassiliou.
The team presented detailed electro-clinical characteristics of a new syndrome of progressive cortical hyperexcitability with ataxia and refractory celiac disease. Regular follow ups of over 600 patients with neurological manifestations due to gluten sensitivity revealed 9 patients with this syndrome.
They found that all nine patients, six men and three women, experienced asymmetrical irregular myoclonus involving one or more limbs and sometimes face. This was often stimulus sensitive and became more widespread over time. Three patients had a history of Jacksonian march, and five had at least one secondarily generalized seizure. Electrophysiology showed evidence of cortical myoclonus. Three showed a phenotype of epilepsia partialis continua at onset.
All patients showed clinical, imaging and/or pathological evidence of cerebellar involvement. All patients followed a strict gluten-free diet, and most successfully eliminated gluten-related antibodies. However, all patients still showed evidence of enteropathy, suggests that refractory celiac disease is to blame.
During the study, two patients died from enteropathy-associated lymphoma and one from status epilepticus. Five patients were treated with mycophenolate and one in addition with rituximab and IV immunoglobulins. These patients showed improvement of ataxia and enteropathy, but continued to suffer the effects of myoclonus.
These results indicate that myoclonus ataxia might be the most common neurological manifestation of refractory celiac disease.
The clinical involvement, apart from ataxia, covers the whole clinical spectrum of cortical myoclonus.