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Celiac Disease in Primary Care. Dustin M Adkins Spring 2007. Essentials of Celiac Disease. Autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten “Gluten” is a collective term for the storage proteins of wheat, rye, and barley. Adaptive/innate immune response damages villi in the proximal small intestine

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celiac disease in primary care

Celiac Disease in Primary Care

Dustin M Adkins

Spring 2007

essentials of celiac disease
Essentials of Celiac Disease
  • Autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten
  • “Gluten” is a collective term for the storage proteins of wheat, rye, and barley.
  • Adaptive/innate immune response damages villi in the proximal small intestine
  • Not just GI complaints! A multisystem disorder with highly variable presentation
  • Increased risk of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma (2.7-6.3x) and overall mortality (1.9-3.4x)
  • Not as “rare” as once thought
  • Affects 1:100 in USA (AGA 2007)
  • Under-diagnosed
classical textbook celiac disease
Classical (Textbook) Celiac Disease
  • Symptoms and complications of malabsorption
  • Hallmark: Diarrhea/steatorrhea (chronic)
  • Abdominal distension, edema, extreme lethargy, weight loss, failure to thrive
  • Onset at any age, gradual or rapid
  • Often fulfills criteria for IBS. Be suspicious of refractory IBS-D especially with associated celiac symptoms!


Dermatitis Herpetiformis is “classically” associated with Celiac Disease. Only in a minority of patients.




atypical celiac disease
Atypical Celiac Disease
  • MOST COMMON presentation
  • Extra-intestinal manifestations dominate
  • Blood, Bones, & Babies
    • Iron deficiency anemia: Unexplained or iron-therapy-refractory (2.3%-5.0%)
    • Osteoporosis: Premature onset (1.0%-3.4%)
    • Infertility: Unexplained, recurrent fetal loss (2.1%-4.1%)
  • Many other S/Sx: short stature, fatigue, delayed puberty, vitamin deficiencies…
clinical presentation of celiac disease
Clinical Presentation of Celiac Disease

Summary of the clinical presentation of celiac disease. Included 170 biopsy-diagnosed celiac disease patients diagnosed between 1993 and 2000 (Lo 2003).

asymptomatic celiac disease
Asymptomatic Celiac Disease
  • Often detected when screening 1° relatives, or incidentally during EGD
  • Risk of complications, lymphoma, mortality still exists!
associated disorders hla dq2 dq8
Autoimmune (10-fold ↑)

Thyroiditis (3%)

Type I Diabetes (1-12%)

Sjögren’s syndrome

Addison’s disease

Autoimmune liver disease


Other related disorders

Down syndrome (3-12%)

Turners syndrome

Williams syndrome

Ulcerative colitis

Crohns disease

IgA nephropathy

Occipital calcifications

Neuropsychiatric d/o’s

Associated Disorders (HLA DQ2/DQ8)
  • Anti-tTG IgA is the single most effective test for PCPs! (95% Sens; 98% Spec)
  • Genetic tests can only rule out Celiac disease (HLA DQ2/DQ8)
  • Duodenal biopsy (EGD) remains the Gold Standard



treatment lifelong gluten free diet
Difficult task for the patient.

Should see a registered dietician

Complicated by fast-food lifestyles, hidden ingredients, poor labeling, and costly/unavailable specialty foods.

Lifelong diet normalizes mortality/comborbidity risks

Treatment: Lifelong Gluten-Free Diet

Never advise a patient to start a Gluten-Free Diet before biopsy!

It alters the histopathology requiring additional testing ($$$), and ticks off the gastroenterologist!

lifelong care for the celiac patient
Lifelong care for the Celiac Patient
  • Take a good history! Symptom improvement doesn’t mean all gluten has been removed from the diet.
  • Make sure the patient has support
    • Celiac support groups
    • Tons of online info on gluten-free dieting
  • Work with pharmacist to avoid gluten in drugs
    • Nardil, Humira, Flonase, Claritin…look it up!
    • Inactive ingredients (dextri-maltose, dusting powder, starches)
  • Watch out for anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, and vitamin deficiencies
participation time which is gluten free
Participation time! Which is gluten-free?

Modified Food Starch



Restaurant Contamination?