Motility alterations in celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity

Dig Dis. 2015;33(2):200-207. doi: 10.1159/000371400. Epub 2015 Apr 22.


Regulation of gut motility is complex and involves neuromuscular, immune and environmental mechanisms. It is well established that patients with celiac disease (CD) often display gut dysmotility. Studies have shown the presence of disturbed esophageal motility, altered gastric emptying, and dysmotility of the small intestine, gallbladder and colon in untreated CD. Most of these motor abnormalities resolve after a strict gluten-free diet, suggesting that mechanisms related to the inflammatory condition and disease process are responsible for the motor dysfunction. Motility abnormalities are also a hallmark of functional bowel disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), where it has been proposed as underlying mechanism for symptom generation (diarrhea, constipation, bloating). Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a poorly defined entity, mostly self-diagnosed, that presents clinically with IBS symptoms in the absence of specific celiac markers. Patients with NCGS are believed to react symptomatically to wheat components, and some studies have proposed the presence of low-grade inflammation in these patients. There is little information regarding the functional characterization of these patients before and after a gluten-free diet. A study suggested the presence of altered gastrointestinal transit in NCGS patients who also have a high prevalence of nonspecific anti-gliadin antibodies. Results of an ongoing clinical study in NCGS patients with positive anti-gliadin antibodies before and after a gluten-free diet will be discussed. Elucidating the mechanisms for symptom generation in NCGS patients is important to find new therapeutic alternatives to the burden of imposing a strict gluten-free diet in patients who do not have CD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Capsule Endoscopy
  • Celiac Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Celiac Disease / etiology
  • Celiac Disease / physiopathology*
  • Diet, Gluten-Free
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Glutens / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Manometry
  • Ultrasonography


  • Glutens