Gluten-Free Diet May Be Useful in Wider Population

Those with mild enteropathy and celiac disease showed similar progress after year on diet

THURSDAY, Mar. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A gluten-free diet may be beneficial for individuals with mild enteropathy and endomysial antibodies, according to research published in the March issue of Gastroenterology.

Kalle Kurppa, M.D., of the University of Tampere in Finland, and colleagues analyzed data from 70 adults who were positive for endomysial antibodies. Out of this group, 23 had normal villi but mild enteropathy; they were randomized to follow a normal diet or a gluten-free diet for one year. The others had signs compatible with celiac disease, and were put on a gluten-free diet as a control group.

Patients with mild enteropathy on the gluten-free diet showed decreased inflammation, symptoms and antibody titers, similar to those seen in celiac controls, the investigators found. In all the subjects continuing a normal diet, villous architecture worsened, and symptoms and abnormal antibody titers continued, the report indicates.

"We propose that the criteria for celiac disease be evaluated promptly because patients such as ours would appear far from rare when an augmented screening policy is applied," the authors write. "Awareness of the high prevalence, diverse clinical picture, and complications of celiac disease is expanding, and the threshold for initiating early treatment of a symptomatic patient is lowered. When a patient already suffers from clinical symptoms before the development of small-bowel mucosal villous atrophy, it seems unethical to delay treatment, and it would be rational to change the criteria together with clinical practice."

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