Study: Celiac Disease Prevalence 5-10 Times Higher in MS Patients

March 25, 2011

Study: Celiac Disease Prevalence 5-10 Times Higher in MS Patients


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Early detection and dietary treatment could improve GI and neurological symptoms, researchers said.

Celiac disease has been linked to a number of other autoimmune disorders, including multiple sclerosis (MS). A new study from Spain offers more insight into that link, as reported on Medscape Medical News.

Spurred by a case study in which a woman diagnosed with MS and celiac disease showed improvement in both gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms after going gluten-free, researchers set out to learn more about the prevalence of celiac disease in MS patients.

The research team analyzed blood tests and biopsies from 72 MS patients and 126 first-degree relatives, and compared the results to those of 123 controls.

Elevated IgA antibodies – a sign of celiac disease – were detected in 10% of MS patients compared to only 2.4% of controls. In addition, 8 MS patients (11.1%) showed signs of villous atrophy, indicating the presence of celiac disease. Among first-degree relatives, 32% had celiac disease, according to the researchers.

MS patients who were diagnosed with celiac disease were put on a gluten-free diet, and all showed signs of improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms as well as in neurological symptoms. The researchers said the results suggest a link between the gut and brain, but added that it was not clear whether celiac disease was causing the neurological issues or if it’s just a case of two conditions occurring at the same time.

The researchers advised doctors to screen for celiac disease when treating patients with MS.

To read more about this study, visit Medscape Medical News.