The neurology of gluten sensitivity: separating the wheat from the chaff

Curr Opin Neurol. 2002 Oct;15(5):519-23. doi: 10.1097/00019052-200210000-00001.


Coeliac disease is the prototypical gluten-sensitive disease. Clinico-pathological features heal on a gluten-free diet and relapse when gluten is reintroduced. An immunopathology is suspected. A number of neurological syndromes may be associated with coeliac disease but it is unclear whether these are directly or indirectly caused by gluten ingestion. It has been proposed that idiopathic ataxias and central nervous system white matter disease are gluten-sensitive syndromes. This is an exciting hypothesis because it offers new therapeutic possibilities including simple exclusion diets. However, interpretation is difficult because occult sub-clinical coeliac disease occurs commonly and background prevalence needs to be accounted for in population-based studies. This review will attempt to summarize the pertinent literature on this fascinating topic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ataxia / etiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / etiology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology
  • Celiac Disease / complications*
  • Celiac Disease / diet therapy
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology*
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis / etiology
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Glutens / adverse effects*
  • Glutens / immunology
  • Hordeum / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology
  • Secale / adverse effects
  • Triticum / adverse effects


  • Glutens