Celiac Sprue: Another Autoimmune Syndrome Associated With Hepatitis C

Fine, Kenneth D.; Ogunji, Frederick; Saloum, Yasser; Beharry, Shari; Crippin, Jeffrey; Weinstein, Jeffrey
January 2001
American Journal of Gastroenterology;Jan2001, Vol. 96 Issue 1, p138
Academic Journal
OBJECTIVE: Celiac sprue is being diagnosed with increasing frequency by screening individuals with epidemiologically associated autoimmune syndromes. We sought to test our hypothesis that hepatitis C also may predispose to celiac sprue because it can trigger autoimmune reactions. METHODS: Two hundred fifty-nine consecutively evaluated patients with chronic hepatitis C infection, 59 with autoimmune liver disease, 137 with other hepatic diseases, 356 with various GI syndromes, and 221 normal volunteers underwent serologic screening for celiac sprue. Patients with antigliadin, antiendomysial, and antitissue transglutaminase antibodies in serum underwent duodenoscopy and biopsy. RESULTS: There was a statistically significantly higher prevalence of antigliadin antibody in all groups of patients with liver disease compared with GI controls and normal controls. However, only patients with hepatitis C (n = 3; 1.2%) or autoimmune liver disease (n = 2; 3.4%) had antiendomysial/antitissue transglutaminase antibody in serum. One of 221 normal volunteers (0.4%) was antigliadin, antiendomysial, and antitissue transglutaminase positive; this individual also was found to have hepatitis C (previously undiagnosed). Each of these six individuals had mild intestinal symptoms, duodenal histopathology consistent with celiac sprue, and the celiac-associated HLA-DQ2 allele. Five of the six followed a prescribed gluten-free diet and experienced symptomatic improvement. CONCLUSION: Celiac sprue is epidemiologically associated with chronic hepatitis C infection and with autoimmune liver disease. Because hepatitis C is much more frequently encountered than autoimmune liver disease, hepatitis C appears to be the most common hepatic disease associated with the development of celiac sprue.


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