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Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Jan;34(1):39-43.

High frequency of anti-endomysial reactivity in candidates to heart transplant.

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Blood Transfusion and Transplant Immunology Centre, University of Milan, Milano, Italy.



A possible link between coeliac disease and dilated cardiomyopathy has recently been suggested.


. To assess the frequency of anti-endomysial antibodies, the marker for coeliac disease, in patients with different forms of heart failure, and to establish the clinical features of those endomysial antibody positive.


. A total of 642 consecutive patients entering the waiting list for heart transplantation from 1995 through 1997 were studied. The prevalence of endomysial IgA antibodies, determined by indirect immunofluorescence, was compared to that observed in three surveys conducted in the Italian general population.


Of the 642 patients, 12 (1.9%; 95% confidence interval 0.97-3.2) resulted endomysial antibody positive, versus 34/9,720 healthy controls (0.35%; 95% confidence interval, 0.23-0.47), accounting for a relative risk of 5.3 (95% confidence interval, 2.8-10.3). Anti-endomysial antibodies were found in 6/275 patients with dilated cardiomyopathy and 6/367 with other forms of heart failure (2.2% versus 1.6%; 95% confidence interval 0.8-4.7 and 0.6-3.5), with no statistical difference. The 12 endomysial antibody positive patients were leaner (body mass index, 22.0 +/- 1.9 vs 24.2 +/- 3. 1, p<0. 05) than 36 seronegative patients matched for baseline demographics and aetiology of cardiomyopathy No differences were observed as regards clinical, biochemical and echocardiographic features, mortality in waiting list and 2-year post-transplant survival.


Patients with end-stage heart failure are at increased risk for coeliac disease as compared to the general population.

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