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Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Apr;34(4):258-61.

Prevalence of coeliac disease in primary biliary cirrhosis and of antimitochondrial antibodies in adult coeliac disease patients in Italy.

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  • 1Department of Surgical and Gastroenterological Sciences, University of Padova, Italy.



Although an association between primary biliary cirrhosis and coeliac disease has recently been reported in Northern Europe, there are still conflicting data concerning this issue.


To evaluate both the prevalence of coeliac disease in a series of primary biliary cirrhosis patients and that of antimitochondrial antibodies in a series of adult biopsy proven coeliac disease patients from Northern Italy.


A total of 87 primary biliary cirrhosis patients (79 female, 8 male) were screened for both IgA-transglutaminase antibodies and antiendomysium antibodies and, in those with either IgA-transglutaminase antibodies or antiendomysium antibodies positivity, upper endoscopy with distal duodenum biopsy was offered. In those who refused upper endoscopy, the intestinal permeability test with lactulose/mannitol excretion was performed.


Antiendomysium antibodies positivity was detected in 3 subjects (3.4%), all of whom had serum IgA-transglutaminase antibodies above the normal range, and fulfilled the diagnosis of coeliac disease. Of 21 other patients with serum IgA-transglutaminase antibodies above the normal range, 17 underwent upper endoscopy which revealed normal duodenum architecture. The remaining 4 patients underwent the lactulose/mannitol excretion test which was within the normal range. Sera from 108 adult coeliac disease patients were tested for antimitochondrial antibodies and positivity was found in 4 patients (3.7%): all had normal liver biochemistry tests, whereas 2 of them also presented thyroid disease. Antibodies directed to the 74-kDa polypeptide of antimitochondrial antibodies were found in 3 out of 4 antimitochondrial antibodies+ve patients.


These results suggest an association between primary biliary cirrhosis and coeliac disease similar to that observed in the Northern European series. In conclusion, screening for coeliac disease with antiendomysium antibodies in primary biliary cirrhosis is justified, and screening for antimitochondrial antibodies is advisable in adult coeliac disease patients.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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