Another Look at Gluten-free Diet for Asymptomatic Celiac

Previously, a blog entry (Benefits of Gluten-Free Diet for “Asymptomatic” Celiac …) reviewed the abstract (available early online) from Gastroenterol 2014; 147: 610-17.  With the publication of the printed version, some useful commentary (Gastroenterol 2014; 147: 557-59) provides perspective.

Study limitations: small number (20 assigned to gluten-free diet, 20 regular diet).

Key points from editorialists:

  • “This study provides some of the strongest data yet supporting celiac disease screening of family members of patients with celiac disease.  However, important issues must be addressed before screening is widely adopted.”
  • “This [study] leaves us in the uncomfortable position of offering a diagnosis that may improve gastrointestinal symptoms, but simultaneously worsen socialization, offer limited overall change in health-related quality of life, and for which the long-term risk-to-benefit ratios are unknown.”
  • This “makes the cost of a gluten-free loaf of bread for all with asymptomatic celiac disease too high, unless and until additional more substantial benefits can be demonstrated.”

Related blog posts:

New Biomarker for Crohn’s Disease (Plus Two)

A recent study identifies a new biomarker for Crohn’s disease (CD) (Inflamm Bowel Dis 2014; 20: 1037-48).

The authors examined a cohort of 208 newly diagnosed pediatric CD and 43 non-IBD controls for ileal/rectal expression of FcγRIA mRNA.  In addition, in a smaller cohort of 26 newly diagnosed CD patients, 83 established CD patients and 30 non-IBD controls the authors measured peripheral blood polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN) CD64 index.

Key findings:

  • Ileal FcγRIA mRNA expression was significantly elevated in CD compared with non-IBD controls
  • PMN CD64 was significantly elevated in CD compared with non-IBD controls and correlated with mucosal injury as measured by the simple endoscopic score for CD.
  • Patients in clinical remission with a PMN CD64 <1 had a high rate of sustained remission (95%) whereas only 56% had sustained remission if PMN CD64 was >1.

Take-home point: This study shows in pediatrics, as in adults IBD patients, that PMN CD64 index is associated with mucosal inflammation; high levels are associated with clinical relapse.  Serum biomarkers are likely to complement stool biomarkers like fecal calprotectin.

One other point the authors make: “studies have found that 57% to 59% of CD have concurrent IBS.”  Thus, there is a need for biomarkers to distinguish whether patients with clinical symptoms are experiencing an inflammatory relapse.

Related blog post: Calprotectin: Part of diagnostic algorithm for IBD 

Two other studies in same issue:

“Alterations in the Intestinal Microbiome (Dysbiosis) as a Predictor of Relapse After Infliximab Withdrawal in Crohn’s disease” pages 978-86.  N=33 CD patients. Key finding: “CD-associated dysbiosis, characterized by a decrease in Firmicutes, correlates with the time-to-relapse after infliximab withdrawal.”

“Tissue Studies in Screened First-degree Relatives Reveal a Distinct Crohn’s Disease Phenotype” pages 1049-56. N=38 asymptomatic relatives. Key finding: based on histologic scoring 61% were normal, 26% had minor lesions, and 13% had evidence of active disease. This study indicates that screening relatives may identify a subset with early biologic disease.