Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) is a syndrome characterized by intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms related to the ingestion of gluten-containing food, in subjects that are not affected by either celiac disease or wheat allergy. Given the lack of a NCGS biomarker, there is the need for standardizing the procedure leading to the diagnosis confirmation. In this paper we report experts' recommendations on how the diagnostic protocol should be performed for the confirmation of NCGS. A full diagnostic procedure should assess the clinical response to the gluten-free diet (GFD) and measure the effect of a gluten challenge after a period of treatment with the GFD. The clinical evaluation is performed using a self-administered instrument incorporating a modified version of the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale. The patient identifies one to three main symptoms that are quantitatively assessed using a Numerical Rating Scale with a score ranging from 1 to 10. The double-blind placebo-controlled gluten challenge (8 g/day) includes a one-week challenge followed by a one-week washout of strict GFD and by the crossover to the second one-week challenge. The vehicle should contain cooked, homogeneously distributed gluten. At least a variation of 30% of one to three main symptoms between the gluten and the placebo challenge should be detected to discriminate a positive from a negative result. The guidelines provided in this paper will help the clinician to reach a firm and positive diagnosis of NCGS and facilitate the comparisons of different studies, if adopted internationally.
Keywords: diagnosis; double-blind placebo-controlled challenge; gastrointestinal symptom rating scale; irritable bowel syndrome; non-celiac gluten sensitivity.