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Ital J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 1999 May;31(4):283-7.

Prevalence and early diagnosis of coeliac disease in autoimmune thyroid disorders.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University S.C., Rome, Italy.



Coeliac disease is associated with several autoimmune disorders such as insulin-dependent diabetes, Sjogren's syndrome, Addison's disease and thyroid diseases. The aim of our study was to evaluate the prevalence of coeliac disease in patients affected by autoimmune thyroid diseases by means of anti-gliadin and anti-endomysial antibodies.


We studied 92 patients affected by autoimmune thyroid diseases (47 chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, 22 Hashimoto's thyroiditis and 23 Graves' disease). Ninety patients with non autoimmune thyroid disorders (51 multifollicular goitre, 28 solitary nodule and 11 papillary carcinoma) and 236 blood donors also took part in the study as control groups.


Total serum IgA were measured in all subjects to exclude selective IgA deficiency; then we measured anti-gliadin antibodies and anti-endomysial antibodies. In patients with anti-gliadin/anti-endomysial antibody positivity and/or with haematinic and laboratory signs of malabsorption we carried out gastrointestinal endoscopy with duodenal histological examination.


Among the 92 patients with autoimmune thyroid disease, 4 (4.3%) showed anti-gliadin and anti-endomysial positivity and had coeliac disease; among the 90 patients with non autoimmune thyroid diseases, 1 (1.1%) had coeliac disease; finally, among the blood donors, 1 subject (0.4%) was anti-gliadin-anti-endomysium antibody positive and had coeliac disease. Those subjects presenting with only anti-gliadin antibody positivity did not have coeliac disease.


These results show that the prevalence of coeliac disease in patients with autoimmune thyroid diseases is significantly increased when compared with the general population (p = 0.009) but not with patients affected by non autoimmune thyroid disorders (p = 0.18). We suggest a serological screening for coeliac disease in all patients with autoimmune thyroid disease measuring anti-endomysial antibodies, considering that early detection and treatment of coeliac disease are effective in preventing its complications.

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