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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Mar 1;21(5):515-8.

Systematic review: the liver in coeliac disease.

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Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, Australia.



For over a decade isolated reports have noted liver histology and biochemistry changes in patients with coeliac disease. The prevalence and response to treatment is clinically important.


To outline the frequency and significance of liver abnormalities in coeliac disease.


A Medline search using Ovid-Coeliac/Coeliac (exp) and liver disease (exp) was completed of English references published during 1966-June 2003. Bibliographic references and other appropriate sources were also searched.


Six studies reported liver biochemistry in 591 patients; 248 patients had abnormal results. Elevated transaminases were the most frequently reported abnormality. A gluten-free diet produced resolution of elevated transaminases in 115 of 130 patients. There was a greater than expected association with primary biliary cirrhosis and advanced liver disease.


Mildly abnormal liver biochemistry is frequent in untreated coeliac disease and may provide a key to the diagnosis. Routine investigations for undiagnosed liver disease should include tissue transglutaminase testing. Left untreated, coeliac-induced hepatitis may rarely progress to end-stage liver disease. Primary biliary cirrhosis is clearly linked to coeliac disease. The full story of these linkages is yet to be written.

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