Tricia Thompson, MS, RD is a nutrition consultant, author and speaker specializing in celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is the author of The Gluten-Free Nutrition Guide and has a MS degree in nutrition from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts and a BA degree in English Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont.

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Living Gluten-Free

by Tricia Thompson, MS, RD, The Gluten-Free Dietitian

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

In honor of the patron saint of Ireland, the abstracts of 3 recent studies conducted in Ireland are included below. These studies are on bacterial overgrowth, refractory celiac disease, and diagnostic criteria for celiac disease.

If you would like to read more about any of these studies, please visit PubMed.

Abu-Shanab A, Quigley EM. Diagnosis of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: the challenges persist! Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009;3:77-87.

“Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth was originally defined in the context of an overt malabsorption syndrome and diagnostic tests were developed and validated accordingly. More recently, the concept of intestinal contamination with excessive numbers of bacteria, especially those of colonic type, has been extended beyond the bounds of frank maldigestion and malabsorption to explain symptomatology in disorders as diverse as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac sprue and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

"Owing to a lack of consensus with regard to the optimal diagnostic criteria (the 'gold standard') for the diagnosis of bacterial overgrowth, the status of these new concepts is unclear. This review sets out to critically appraise the various diagnostic approaches that have been taken and are currently employed to diagnose small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.”

O’Shea U, Abuzakouk M, O’Morain C, et al. Investigation of molecular markers in the diagnosis of refractory celiac disease in a large patient cohort. J Clin Pathol. 2008;61:1200-1202.

“AIMS: Some patients with coeliac disease, despite strict adherence to a gluten-free diet, continue to have significant symptoms and/or a severe small intestinal histological lesion. The term "refractory coeliac disease" (rCD) is used to describe this condition. The purpose of this study was to investigate the value of tissue molecular markers reported to help in the diagnosis of rCD.

"METHODS: Details on 61 patients with suspected rCD were collected. The clinical and laboratory findings in these patients were carefully evaluated, in part to determine whether patients were adhering to a strict gluten-free diet. The co-expression of CD3 and CD8 on intraepithelial lymphocytes was investigated by monoclonal antibody staining of small intestinal biopsy tissue; a finding of less than 50% CD3+ cells co-expressing CD8 was defined as an aberrant phenotype. T cell receptor gene rearrangement was assessed when a sufficient tissue sample was available.

"RESULTS: A diagnosis of rCD was made in 38 patients based on clinical, laboratory and histological data. An aberrant intraepithelial lymphocyte population was found in 20 of these patients and in this group a clonal T cell population was found in five of seven patients tested. In the remaining 18 patients, the CD3/CD8 ratio was normal and two of seven tested had a clonal T cell population. After detailed monitoring, a diagnosis of rCD was excluded in the remaining 23 patients. CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the use of phenotypic and T cell clonality investigations in identifying patients with true rCD.”

Mohamed BM, Feighery C, Coates C, et al. The absence of a mucosal lesion on standard histological examination does not exclude diagnosis of celiac disease. Dig Dis Sci. 2008;53:52-61.

“Some patients with undiagnosed celiac disease have minor mucosal lesions that may not be apparent during routine histological analysis. Twenty-five such patients of our institution were discharged to their primary-care physicians despite having positive endomysial antibody serology. To re-evaluate diagnosis for these patients, immunohistological staining with antibodies to CD2, CD3, CD7, CD8, CD69, and Ki67 was conducted on original biopsies from twenty patients.

Clinical, serological, and histological investigations were offered to all fourteen patients who attended for review. We observed a significantly greater (P < 0.0001) numbers of intraepithelial lymphocytes and Ki67-positive enterocytes in sections from these twenty patients than for normal controls. Of the fourteen patients who attended for further review, firm diagnosis of celiac disease was made for seven patients and diagnosis was likely for another two. Our study clearly revealed that over-reliance on standard histological findings results in failure to diagnose celiac disease.”


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