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Acta Paediatr. 2009 Feb;98(2):343-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.01085.x. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Serum zinc in small children with coeliac disease.

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Department of Paediatrics, Linköping University, Norrköping Hospital, Norrköping, Sweden.


In coeliac disease (CD) there is a gluten-induced small bowel enteropathy leading to malabsorption of various nutrients, vitamins and trace elements. Low levels of serum zinc have been reported in adults with untreated CD. In the present study we related the serum concentration of zinc to the morphology of the small bowel mucosa in 58 children, all under 4 years of age and under investigation for coeliac disease. The mean serum concentration of zinc (mean +/- SD; mumol/L) was significantly lower in children with untreated CD (9.7 +/- 2.0) (n = 11) compared to non-coeliac children without enteropathy (15.1 +/- 2.3) (n = 16) (p < 0.001), coeliac children on a gluten-free diet without enteropathy (14.2 +/- 1.6) (n = 14) (p < 0.001), coeliac children on gluten challenge with enteropathy (14.1 +/- 2.1) (n = 12) (p < 0.001) and coeliac children on gluten challenge without enteropathy (13.8 +/- 1.9) (n = 6) (p < 0.005).


Serum zinc concentration is decreased in untreated coeliac children with enteropathy and normalizes on gluten-free diet. A low serum zinc value in a child being investigated for possible CD on clinical grounds can thus be used as a complementary marker for enteropathy indicating further investigation with small bowel biopsy. The hypothetical role of zinc in the pathogenesis of CD is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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