High prevalence of celiac disease in Italian general population

Dig Dis Sci. 2001 Jul;46(7):1500-5. doi: 10.1023/a:1010648122797.


The worldwide increase of celiac disease prompted us to assess its prevalence in the Italian general population. The 3483 inhabitants of Campogalliano were tested for immunoglobulin A anti-endomysial antibodies. Twenty subjects showed antibody positivity and duodenal biopsy detected typical mucosal lesions of celiac disease in 17 of them; the remaining three cases had a normal villous architecture, but the finding of increased gamma/delta intraepithelial lymphocytes in all and the heterodimer DQA1*0501, DQB1*0201 in two of them was consistent with potential celiac disease. Only one patient had an overt malabsorption syndrome, characterized by diarrhea, weight loss, and severe weakness. In eight subjects atypical symptoms of celiac disease, such as dyspepsia and depression, were present, whereas the remaining subjects were silent. Celiac disease was more frequent in younger age groups. Our cross-sectional design study demonstrates that celiac disease prevalence in the Italian general population is 4.9 per 1000 (95% CI 2.8-7.8), increasing up to 5.7 per 1000 (95% CI 3.5-8.8) with the inclusion of potential cases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies / analysis
  • Celiac Disease / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Gliadin / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A / analysis
  • Immunoglobulin G / analysis
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies


  • Antibodies
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Gliadin