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Brain Abnormalities in Patients with Celiac Disease and Neurological Issues 09/17/2012 - Many aspects of celiac disease simply have not been well studied, so they remain poorly understood. For example, researchers have not done enough study on people with celiac disease to understand if they show any readily available serological markers of neurological disease.

Image: CC--jsmjrTo better understand this issue, a research team recently assessed the amount of brain abnormality in patients with celiac disease, along with looking into MR imaging sequences as biomarkers for neurological dysfunction.

The study team included S. Currie, M. Hadjivassiliou, M.J. Clark, D.S. Sanders, I.D. Wilkinson, P.D. Griffiths, and N. Hoggard, of the Academic Unit of Radiology at University of Sheffield, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, in Sheffield, UK.

For their study, they conducted a retrospective examination of a consecutive group of 33 patients with biopsy proven celiac disease, who had been referred for neurological opinion. The group ranged in age from 19 to 64 years old, with an average of 44±13 years.

Researchers divided the group into subgroups based on their main neurological complaints of balance disturbance, headache and sensory loss.

They used 3T MR to evaluate variations in brain grey matter density, cerebellar volume, cerebellar neurochemistry and white matter abnormalities (WMAs) between celiac patients and control subjects.

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The results showed that the celiac patients had a significantly lower cerebellar volume than did control subjects. Celiac patients had 6.9±0.7% of total intracranial volume, compared with 7.4±0.9% for control subjects (p<0.05).

Celiac patients also showed significantly less grey matter density in multiple brain regions, both above and below the tentorium cerebelli, compared with the control subjects (p<0.05).

The data showed that 12 (36%) patients demonstrated WMAs unexpected for the patient's age, with the highest incidence occurring in the headache subgroup.

This group of patients averaged nearly double the number of WMAs per MR imaging session than the subgroup with balance disturbance, and six times more than the subgroup with sensory loss.

The MR images of celiac patients who have neurological symptoms show significant brain abnormality on MR imaging, which means that MR imaging may serve as valuable biomarkers of disease in celiac patients.

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6 Responses:

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said this on
25 Sep 2012 11:42:26 AM PDT
Although I appreciate the medical terms and speech, I'm still not sure what it all means. We don't need it to be written at a 3rd grade level, but some explanation for those who did not attend med school would be helpful.


Valeria Todd
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said this on
25 Sep 2012 10:39:37 PM PDT
Jessica dear, I suppose this is another nice article that tells us we are stupider than normal people on top of being generally doomed. Well, me I have graduated 2 European universities, had a successful career and am fluent in 5 foreign language. I am over 50 and have been diagnosed celiac and following up a gluten-free diet only in the last 5 years. Thank God I am celiac or otherwise I would have been a genius, according to this research.

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said this on
01 Oct 2012 9:48:53 AM PDT
Valeria - agreed. I went about 28 years of my life without being on a proper/pure gluten-free diet and was diagnosed with everything under the sun besides what was actually the root of what was wrong with me. During my time as a celiac consuming gluten, I earned both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree from two of the most world-renowned music conservatories. Without having been hindered by debilitating pain and ill health most of my life, I could have been a prodigy or at least at the very top of my field.

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said this on
03 Oct 2012 7:15:47 PM PDT
I have been diagnosed as having signs of dementia. I was
forty years old when I found a doctor who cared enough to test me for celiac disease. Now I have to find a doctor that understands that celiac disease is affecting my brain.


said this on
29 Apr 2014 6:26:22 AM PDT
I have refractory coeliac disease and was told many years ago that women with this illness very often have children that then grow up to suffer from mental illness. My own son suffers from schizophrenia. I was told it might be something to do with not enough nutrition in the womb. Should we not be screening pregnant women for coeliac, I am trying to get publicity around this subject?

Lucille Cholerton
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said this on
04 Jan 2016 5:12:11 AM PDT
Yes, June, I believe every pregnant mother should be screened for celiac. I had 3 children who have all turned out to be celiac, as I am. I did not realize that I was a celiac until 20 years later! All of my children suffered from a myriad of health issues for many years. My middle daughter was born jaundiced. I was told it was caused by "immature" liver enzymes. I realize now it was an autoimmune reaction against the liver, caused by gluten. That daughter suffered other autoimmune disorders (Sjogren's syndrome is one of them) as she grew up. I have learned that schizophrenia is caused by the peptides released by gluten and casein in dairy products, that upset brain chemicals.

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Thank you so much, I will be making a doctors appointment soon

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