Effect of gender on the manifestations of celiac disease: evidence for greater malabsorption in men

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2005 Feb;40(2):183-7. doi: 10.1080/00365520510011498.


Objective: Because celiac disease is a female-predominant disease we investigated the influence of gender on clinical manifestations of the disease in the United States.

Material and methods: Data were obtained on biopsy-proven adult patients with celiac disease from a database of patients seen between 1981 and 2001 in a University-based referral center. Z scores were calculated to adjust for age, ethnicity and gender using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey database as controls.

Results: The cohort consisted of 323 patients (211 F, 112 M). Men had a shorter duration of symptoms than women (p=0.006). There was no gender difference in the age at diagnosis or mode of presentation. Body mass index (BMI), mean hemoglobin and ferritin values were lower in women than in men, but the Z scores for these values were not significantly different, indicating that the differences are physiological. All lipid values were low (negative Z scores). Men had lower total cholesterol (162.0+/-46.5mg/dl) compared to women (181.0+/-40.0mg/dl), p=0.02 and lower Z scores (-1.10+/-1.1) compared to women (-0.71+/-0.9), p=0.04. Men had lower bone density T scores at the radius (p=0.07). Autoimmune diseases were present in 30.7% with a female to male ratio of 1:1, compared to the general population in which 3.2% have autoimmune diseases with a female predominance.

Conclusions: Most gender differences in celiac disease are physiological. However, men have indirect evidence of greater malabsorption than females and have female-predominant associated diseases when they present with celiac disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Malabsorption Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sex Factors