Concordance of dermatitis herpetiformis and celiac disease in monozygous twins

J Invest Dermatol. 2000 Dec;115(6):990-3. doi: 10.1046/j.1523-1747.2000.00172.x.


Celiac disease can be defined as the classical manifestation of gluten sensitivity, which primarily affects the small intestine. Gluten sensitivity has also a skin manifestation, i.e., dermatitis herpetiformis. Both diseases have a strong genetic association with HLA DQ on chromosome 6. In this study we tried to estimate how much different clinical expressions of gluten sensitivity are determined by genetic factors, and hence how feasible they are for genetic mapping; therefore, we studied all six monozygous twin pairs found among 1292 prospectively collected patients of dermatitis herpetiformis in Finland. Three of the six twin pairs were concordant for dermatitis herpetiformis and for simultaneous enteropathy, celiac disease. Two other twin pairs were partially discordant, one of each pair had dermatitis herpetiformis and celiac disease, whereas the other had solely the gut manifestation of gluten sensitivity, i.e., celiac disease. Only one pair was found to be discordant for gluten sensitivity. All the pairs had typical risk alleles for gluten sensitivity, i.e., either HLA DQ2 or DQ8. These results demonstrate that the genetic component in gluten sensitivity as broadly defined is very strong (5/6 concordant). Genetically identical individuals can have clearly distinguished phenotypes, either dermatitis herpetiformis or celiac disease, suggesting that environmental factors determine the exact phenotype of this multifactorial disease. These findings are of importance in genetic linkage analyses, which focus to only certain phenotypic properties of a complex trait.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Twin Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease* / diagnosis
  • Celiac Disease* / genetics
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis* / diagnosis
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis* / genetics
  • Diseases in Twins / diagnosis
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Skin Tests
  • Twins, Monozygotic