Background: Short stature is one of the features of Turner syndrome and a form of presentation of monosymptomatic celiac disease.
Methods: The recognition of celiac disease in two antiendomysium antibody-positive Turner syndrome girls who did not respond to growth hormone treatment led us to perform as a screening for celiac disease IgA and IgG antigliadin antibodies and antiendomysium antibodies determination in other 35 Turner syndrome patients. Intestinal biopsy was proposed to the antiendomysium antibodies-positive girls; in the former, subtotal villous atrophy was found; in the latter, one parent's consent for intestinal biopsy was not obtained.
Results: The prevalence of celiac disease in Turner syndrome patients observed in the present study (8.1 if we consider 3 villous atrophy, 10.8 if we consider 4 antiendomysium antibody-positive) is quite high and seems to indicate that the association of these two disorders could not be coincidental. As to the clinical picture, celiac disease appeared atypical in one case, typical in another one and as a silent form in the third case. Of the 3 cases with villous atrophy on gluten-free diet growth hormone therapy was not effective in two girls, who were older than 16 years, while in the younger patient, detected by the screening, a significant increment of height velocity and height Standard Deviation Score for Chronological Age according to Turner references was observed.
Conclusions: This study suggests that celiac disease can be associated with Turner syndrome and even responsible for a failure of growth hormone therapy. Therefore we propose to perform in Turner syndrome patients antiendomysium antibody determination as a screening followed by intestinal biopsy in positive cases. This would be advisable at least before starting growth hormone treatment.