Systematic review: The evidence base for long-term management of coeliac disease

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2008 Nov 1;28(9):1042-66. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2008.03820.x. Epub 2008 Jul 30.


Background: While gluten-free diet is an effective treatment for coeliac disease, the need for and goals of long-term management of patients are poorly defined.

Aim: To review systematically the complications and associations of coeliac disease, to identify potential risk factors, to define ways of assessing risk factors and to provide a strategy for management.

Methods: Review of medical literature from 1975.

Results: There is an increasing list of potential complications and/or conditions associated with coeliac disease, in particular, autoimmune disease, malignancy and bone disease. Risk factors that may predict or influence long-term outcomes include genetic susceptibility, environmental factors predominantly gluten ingestion, persistent small intestinal inflammation/injury and nutritional deficiencies. Genotyping of patients is yet to have an established clinical role in long-term management. Assessment of adherence to the gluten-free diet largely relies upon skilled dietary history, but the ultimate test is duodenal histopathology, which is the only currently established means of assessing healing. Symptoms, serology or other non-invasive means are poor predictors of healing and the likelihood of complications.

Conclusion: Evidence (albeit limited) that adherence to a gluten-free diet and mucosal healing prevent and/or ameliorate complications indicates that a planned long-term strategy for follow-up is essential.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Celiac Disease / complications
  • Celiac Disease / genetics
  • Celiac Disease / therapy*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Glutens / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Intestine, Small / pathology
  • Long-Term Care / methods
  • Malnutrition
  • Risk Factors


  • Glutens