Mechanisms of abnormal puberty in coeliac disease

Horm Res. 2002;57 Suppl 2:63-5. doi: 10.1159/000058103.


Coeliac disease (CD) is one of the most frequent chronic diseases in childhood. The clinical spectrum has changed; in addition to the classical gastrointestinal form, other clinical manifestations have been described, such as hypogonadism and the consequent delay in onset of puberty. Recent studies reported not only a significantly retarded menarche in untreated CD girls as compared with girls following a gluten-free diet, but also in treated CD a negative effect on pregnancy, resulting in lower birth weight and shorter duration of pregnancy. In boys, there is a reduced serum level of dihydrotestosterone and an increased serum level of luteinizing hormone, an abnormality pattern suggesting androgen resistance. The pathogenesis of CD-related reproductive disorders is still unclear. Some hypotheses may be tried; for example, in CD there is a high level of autoantibodies directed against self-antigens, so there could be antibodies directed against hormones or organs critical for pubertal development. Moreover, in CD there could be a selective malabsorption of micronutrients essential for the metabolism of carrier or receptor proteins for sex hormones.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / metabolism
  • Celiac Disease / complications*
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Glutens
  • Humans
  • Hypogonadism / metabolism
  • Male
  • Puberty / physiology*
  • Puberty, Delayed / physiopathology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Glutens