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Can a Gluten-Free Diet Improve Symptoms of Celiac Hepatitis?

This is one of the few studies to show the range of histological changes to the liver in patients with 'celiac hepatitis'


Photo: CC--K-State Research and Extension

Celiac.com 10/23/2017 - What's the relationship between celiac disease and liver histology, serology and treatment response?

Celiac disease is diagnosed on the basis of ESPGHAN criteria, and clinical response to gluten-free diet. Researchers have noted histological abnormalities on liver biopsies in patients with celiac disease, but have rarely described the abnormalities in detail.

A team of researchers recently set out to assess the histological spectrum of 'celiac hepatitis' and to see if a gluten-free diet can reduce such features. The research team included K Majumdar, P Sakhuja, AS Puri, K Gaur, A Haider, and R Gondal. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Pathology, and the Department of Gastroenterology at the G B Pant Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, New Delhi, India.

Their team analyzed twenty-five patients with concomitant celiac disease and hepatic derangement for clinical profile, laboratory investigations and duodenal and liver biopsy. They then made a histological comparison of pre- and post-GFD duodenal and liver biopsies, where possible.

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They found that fifteen patients with celiac disease later developed abnormal liver function tests. They also found that 7 out of 10 patients with liver disease showed tissue positive transglutaminase, while 6 of the 10 had antigliadin antibodies. Eight patients showed serological markers for autoimmune liver disease (AILD). Liver histology ranged from mild reactive hepatitis, chronic hepatitis, and steatosis to cirrhosis.

They found six patients with liver biopsies made after a gluten-free diet. Five of these patients showed a decrease in steatosis, portal and lobular inflammation and fibrosis score.

From these results, they concluded that celiac hepatitis could be a distinct condition, and that patients may present with either celiac disease, or with secondary hepatic derangement. They recommend celiac evaluations for patients with AILD, unexplained transaminasaemia or anemia.

This is one of the few studies to show the range of histological changes to the liver in patients with 'celiac hepatitis'. They note that the adoption of a gluten-free diet in such patients may help to improve symptoms of 'celiac hepatitis'.

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