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Dig Liver Dis. 2004 May;36(5):333-6.

Searching for coeliac disease in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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  • 1Department Medical Sciences, IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico di Milano, University of Milan, Via F. Sforza, 35, 20122 Milan, Italy.



A non-negligible percentage of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a leading cause of hepatic progressive disorder related to insulin resistance, have no metabolic risk factors, and abnormal intestinal permeability has been suggested to be involved in the pathogenesis of the liver damage. Coeliac disease, a curable disorder characterised by inflammatory mucosal damage, may show hepatic histological features similar to steatohepatitis. Conflicting data have been reported on the prevalence of coeliac disease in non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.


To search for coeliac disease in a series of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by screening with anti-tissue transglutaminase and anti-endomysium antibodies.


Fifty-nine consecutive patients with hypertransaminasemia and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, 38 (64%) with steatohepatitis. Anti-endomysium antibodies were assayed by indirect immunofluorescence, IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase by ELISA. Patients who tested positive underwent HLA DQ typing and endoscopy.


Tissue transglutaminase antibodies were positive in six (10%) patients and anti-endomysium in two (3.4%); only two (3.4%), positive for both anti-endomysium positive and anti-transglutaminase, resulted to have coeliac disease based on histological findings. After 6 months of gluten-free diet, liver enzymes normalised.


The prevalence of silent coeliac disease is 3.4% in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver. The inclusion of anti-endomysium antibodies test in studying patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver and persistent biochemical abnormalities has to be taken into account, since positivity for tissue transglutaminase antibodies, in the absence of confirmatory anti-endomysium antibodies, is not sufficient to perform diagnostic endoscopy.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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