Gluten sensitivity in sporadic and hereditary cerebellar ataxia

Ann Neurol. 2001 Apr;49(4):540-3.


Gluten sensitivity, with or without classical celiac disease symptoms and intestinal pathology, has been suggested as a potentially treatable cause of sporadic cerebellar ataxia. Here, we investigated the prevalence of abnormally high serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) and IgG anti-gliadin antibody titers and typical human lymphocyte antigen (HLA) genotypes in 50 patients presenting with cerebellar ataxia who were tested for molecularly characterized hereditary ataxias. A high prevalence of gluten sensitivity was found in patients with sporadic (7/26; 27%) and autosomal dominant (9/24; 37%) ataxias, including patients with known ataxia genotypes indicating a hitherto unrecognized association between hereditary ataxias and gluten sensitivity. Further studies are needed to determine whether gluten sensitivity contributes to cerebellar degeneration in patients with hereditary cerebellar ataxia. Patients with hereditary ataxia (including asymptomatic patients with known ataxia genotype) should be considered for screening for gluten sensitivity and gluten-free diet trials.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / genetics*
  • Cerebellar Ataxia / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Glutens / adverse effects*
  • Glutens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged


  • Glutens