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Celiac Disease Linked to Small-Fiber Neuropathies

Arch Neurol 2005;62:1574-1578.

Celiac.com 11/29/2005 – According to Dr. Thomas H. Brannagan and colleagues at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, some cases of small-fiber neuropathies are caused by untreated celiac disease and may be treatable with a gluten-free diet. The researchers report on eight patients who had neuropathy with asymmetric numbness or paresthesias in various parts of their body that began at different ages--ranging from childhood to 59 years. Out of the 8 patients in the study 5 were diagnosed with celiac disease after their neuropathy began. All patients were treated with a gluten-free diet and their neuropathy symptoms were re-evaluated--four reported improvement, one had no improvement, and 2 reported worsening of symptoms.

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The researchers conclude: “Patients with celiac disease may have a neuropathy involving small fibers, demonstrated by results of skin biopsy. The pattern of symptoms, with frequent facial involvement and a non–length-dependent pattern on skin biopsy findings, suggests a sensory ganglionopathy or an immune-mediated neuropathy. Improvement of symptoms in some patients after initiating a gluten-free diet warrants further study.”

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