Gluten sensitivity (GS) may be defined as a state of heightened immunological responsiveness in genetically susceptible people. This definition does not imply bowel involvement. The authors, all affiliated with the Department of Neurology at The Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK, suggest that regarding GS as principally a disease of the small bowel is a historical misconception. They state that GS can be primarily, and at times exclusively a neurological disease, and that IgG antigliadin antibody should be part of the routine investigation of all patients with neurological dysfunction of obscure aetiology, particularly patients with ataxia and peripheral neuropathy. Statistical evidence showed that patients with neurological disease of unknown aetiology were found to have a much higher prevalence of circulating antigliadin antibodies (57%) in their blood than either healthy controls (12%) or those with neurological disorders of known aetiology (5%). More celiac disease (CD) specific serological markers such as anti-endomysium and transglutaminase antibodies may have helped in diagnosing CD, but their sensitivity as markers of other manifestation of GS (where the bowel is not affected) is low. Early diagnosis and removal of the trigger factor by the introduction of a gluten-free diet may be the most promising therapeutic intervention.
Hadjivassiliou M, et al. Gluten sensitivity as a neurological illness. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 2002 72:560-563.
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