Background: Celiac disease has been associated with autoimmune disease (eg, autoimmune thyroiditis) and the appearance of different autoantibodies (eg, antidouble-stranded DNA). Conversely, tissue transglutaminase antibodies have been detected in autoimmune disorders, including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), but cases of celiac disease with SLE have been only rarely recorded.
Methods: In this study, 246 patients with biopsy-defined celiac disease were evaluated for a prior diagnosis of SLE on the basis of American Rheumatological Association-defined clinical and serologic parameters.
Results: There were 6 patients with celiac disease and SLE, or 2.4%, including 4 females and 2 males. Their mean age at diagnosis of celiac disease was 44.7 years and SLE 50 years. In all patients, the diagnosis of SLE was established from 2 years to more than 10 years after the diagnosis of celiac disease, with a mean of 5.3 years. The celiac disease in all 6 patients responded to a gluten-free diet with histologic normalization of the small intestinal biopsies. Despite this small bowel biopsy response, SLE appeared later in the clinical course of the celiac disease.
Conclusions: This study suggests that SLE occurs far more frequently in biopsy-defined celiac disease than is currently appreciated, and detection may be more likely if the period of clinical follow-up of the celiac disease is prolonged.