Expert review: Celiac disease

A recent article gives a concise expert update on Celiac disease (NEJM 2012; 367: 2419-26).

As this is an area that has been covered several times by this blog and is familiar to most of the followers, I will comment on a few issues that were particularly interesting to me.  Though, the review is thorough and a helpful reference on most aspects of celiac disease..

What is the gluten threshold?  In patients with celiac disease, a minimal degree of gluten contamination is difficult to avoid.  “The lowest amount of daily gluten that causes damage to the celiac intestinal mucosa over (the gluten threshold) is 10 to 50 mg per day (a 25-g slice of bread contains approximately 1.6 g of gluten).”  New regulations propose that foods which are labeled as gluten free have less than 20 ppm of gluten contamination.

When are intraepithelial lymphocytes increased in the duodenum?  The abnormal threshold is considered >25 per 100 enterocytes.

What proportion of celiac disease patients have been diagnosed?  According to a recent European study, only a small proportion (21%) of celiac patients are clinically recognized.

Best screening test currently? Anti-tissue transglutaminase (TTG) IgA antibody –both sensitivity and specificity are >95%.  Consider TTG IgG in patients with IgA deficieny or possibly deamidated gliadin IgG.

Potential complications of untreated celiac disease? Osteoporosis, impaired splenic function, neurologic disorders, infertility or recurrent abortion, ulcerative jejunoileitis, and cancer.

Biopsy needed? Usually, “although recent guidelines suggest that biopsy may not be necessary in selected children with strong clinical and serologic evidence of celiac disease.”

Population-based screening or case-finding?  At this time, population-based screening is not recommended.  Case-finding based on symptoms and screening of at-risk groups is recommended though this is likely to miss >50% of cases.

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