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J Clin Gastroenterol. 2004 Nov-Dec;38(10):901-5.

Silent celiac disease in chronic hepatitis C: impact of interferon treatment on the disease onset and clinical outcome.

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Divisions of Internal Medicine and Hepatology, Second University of Naples Medical School, Napoli, Italy.



To assess the impact of interferon treatment on celiac disease onset in hepatitis C patients and to clarify its clinical relevance and outcome.


Hepatitis C is associated with autoimmunity, which can be exacerbated by interferon treatment. Cases of celiac disease activation during interferon treatment have been reported.


Retrospective evaluation of 534 hepatitis C patients with or without symptoms compatible with celiac disease onset during interferon treatment and 225 controls. Anti-transglutaminase antibodies were assayed. HLA-DQA1 and -B1 loci were typed. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy was applied to confirm the diagnosis in antibody-positive patients.


Anti-transglutaminase antibodies were detected before treatment in 1.3% of hepatitis C patients and in 0.4% of controls (not significant). Eighty-six percent of patients with anti-transglutaminase antibodies showed activation of celiac disease while on interferon. Symptoms ranged from mild to severe, and interferon had to be discontinued in 2 of 7 (29%) patients. Symptoms disappeared in 6 of 7 patients after interferon withdrawal. Onset of symptoms compatible with celiac disease during interferon therapy was significantly associated with the presence of anti-transglutaminase antibodies (OR 53).


In hepatitis C patients, the activation of silent celiac disease during interferon treatment is almost universal and should be suspected, but it uncommonly requires interferon treatment discontinuation. Symptoms subside after interferon withdrawal.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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