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Am J Gastroenterol. 2013 May;108(5):647-53. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.45.

Villous atrophy and negative celiac serology: a diagnostic and therapeutic dilemma.

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Celiac Disease Center, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY 10032, USA.



Patients with villous atrophy (VA) and negative celiac disease (CD) serologies pose a diagnostic and therapeutic dilemma. When a definitive etiology for VA is not determined, patients are characterized as having unclassified sprue (US), the optimal management of which is unknown.


We studied adult patients with VA on biopsy and negative celiac serologies, evaluated at our tertiary referral center over a 10-year period. Testing for HLA DQ2/8 alleles, antienterocyte antibodies, giardia stool antigen, bacterial overgrowth, total serum immunoglobulins, and HIV was noted. Treatment, response, and repeat-biopsy findings were recorded.


The most common diagnoses of the 72 patients were seronegative CD, medication-related villous atrophy, and US. Of those with US, the majority reported symptomatic improvement with immunosuppressive therapy. Some patients initially labeled as unclassified were found to have VA associated with olmesartan use.


The role of medications in the development of VA and the optimal dose and length of immunosuppression for patients with US should be investigated further.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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