Prevalence of silent celiac disease in patients with autoimmune thyroiditis from Northern Sardinia

J Endocrinol Invest. 2001 May;24(5):298-302. doi: 10.1007/BF03343864.


Celiac disease (CD) is frequently associated with other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes mellitus, autoimmune thyroiditis (AT), and Addison's disease. The frequency of these associations varies with the populations studied. We conducted this study to ascertain the prevalence of CD in patients with AT from Sardinia, an area with a very high prevalence of CD. To this aim, 297 consecutive patients with AT (as defined by elevated antithyroid antibody levels and a positive ultrasound scan) were studied. Immunoglobulin A and G-class antigliadin antibodies were assayed in serum; if either or both were positive, antiendomysium antibodies were determined. If two markers were positive, serum ferritin, folate, and vitamin B12 levels were measured and jejunal biopsy was suggested. Thirteen out of the 14 patients who showed at least two positive markers consented to jejunal biopsy and all of them showed histological features of CD. The prevalence of CD in AT patients was 4-fold greater than that observed in the general population (4.37 vs 1.06%, p<0.0001). Ferritin was low in 6 and vitamin B12 in 2 out of 13 patients; serum folates were normal in all patients. Molecular typing of HLA class II alleles showed an increased frequency of the extended haplotype DRB1*0301/DQA1*0501/DQB1*0201. None of our patients had a history of gastrointestinal symptoms. We confirm the increased prevalence of silent CD in patients with AT. Patients with AT ought to be regarded as a high-risk group for CD and should be screened routinely for it; if negative, screening tests should be repeated at regular intervals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atrophy
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Biopsy
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology*
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / pathology
  • Child
  • Duodenum / pathology
  • Female
  • Gliadin / immunology
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DQ alpha-Chains
  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • HLA-DR Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / blood
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / immunology
  • Reticulin / immunology
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / complications*
  • Thyroiditis, Autoimmune / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DQ alpha-Chains
  • HLA-DQ beta-Chains
  • HLA-DQA1 antigen
  • HLA-DQB1 antigen
  • HLA-DR Antigens
  • HLA-DRB1 Chains
  • HLA-DRB1*03:01 antigen
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Reticulin
  • Gliadin