Objectives: To prospectively study the clinical, neurophysiological and neuropathological characteristics of axonal neuropathies associated with positive antigliadin antibodies and the prevalence of such neuropathies in a cohort of patients with sporadic axonal neuropathy.
Methods: Prospective screening (using antigliadin, antiendomysium and tissue transglutaminase antibodies) of patients with peripheral neuropathy attending a neurology clinic.
Results: 215 patients with axonal neuropathy were screened. 141 patients had symmetrical sensorimotor neuropathy, 47 had mononeuropathy multiplex, 17 had motor neuropathy and 10 had small-fibre neuropathy. Despite extensive investigations of the 215 patients, 140 had idiopathic neuropathy. Positive immunoglobulin (Ig)G with or without IgA antigliadin antibodies was found in 34% (47/140) of the patients with idiopathic neuropathy. This compares with 12% prevalence of these antibodies in the healthy controls. The prevalence of coeliac disease as shown by biopsy in the idiopathic group was at least 9% as compared with 1% in the controls. The clinical features of 100 patients (47 from the prevalence study and 53 referred from elsewhere) with gluten neuropathy included a mean age at onset of 55 (range 24–77) years and a mean duration of neuropathy of 9 (range 1–33) years. Gluten-sensitive enteropathy was present in 29% of patients. The human leucocyte antigen types associated with coeliac disease were found in 80% of patients.
Conclusions: Gluten sensitivity may be aetiologically linked to a substantial number of idiopathic axonal neuropathies.
- HLA, human leucocyte antigen
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Published Online First 11 July 2006
Competing interests: None.
Ethical approval: The South Sheffield Research Ethics Committee approved the study protocol, and all patients provided written informed consent.