Prevalence and factors associated with gluten sensitivity in inflammatory bowel disease

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2018 Feb;53(2):147-151. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2017.1409364. Epub 2017 Dec 7.


Objectives: Gluten sensitivity (GS) arises with celiac disease and has also been found in non-celiac disorders, although its characteristics in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are unclear. This study evaluated the prevalence of GS and factors associated with GS in IBD.

Methods: Adult IBD patients at a tertiary-care medical center completed a survey of their demographics, medical history, family history, social history and symptoms. Data on IBD characteristics were abstracted from the medical records. Descriptive analyses estimated the prevalence of GS. Multivariable logistic regression assessed the association between GS and patient or disease factors.

Results: Of 102 IBD patients (55 Crohn's disease [CD], 46 ulcerative colitis [UC] and 3 IBD-unclassified), GS was reported in 23.6 and 27.3% of CD and UC patients, respectively. Common symptoms included fatigue, abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating and hematochezia. There was no difference in these symptoms when comparing patients with and without GS. When evaluating IBD-related factors, GS was associated with having had a recent flare (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 7.4; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.6-34.1), stenotic disease in CD (aOR 4.7; 95% CI 1.1-20.2) and dermatologic manifestations (aOR 5.5; 95% CI 1.2-24.1).

Conclusion: GS was common in IBD and associated with having had a recent flare. GS may be transient for some patients, whereby dietary recommendations during and after a flare could focus on the avoidance of specific food triggers with possible reintroduction of these foods over time. This study prompts further prospective investigation into the temporal evolution of GS in IBD.

Keywords: Inflammatory bowel disease; epidemiology; gluten sensitivity; gluten-free diet; predictors.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / etiology
  • Adult
  • California
  • Diarrhea / etiology
  • Female
  • Food Hypersensitivity / diagnosis
  • Food Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Glutens / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / complications*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Tertiary Care Centers


  • Glutens