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Minerva Pediatrica 2010 August;62(4):333-8


language: English

Autonomic imbalance in celiac children

Barbato M. 1, Curione M. 2, Amato S. 2, Carbone J. 3, Briani C. 4, Pannone V. 1, Maiella G. 1, Di Camillo C. 1, Panetti D. 2, Cucchiara S. 1

1 Department of Pediatrics, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy; 2 Department of Clinical Sciences, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy; 3 Department Radiology, La Sapienza University Rome, Italy; 4 University of Padua, Pauda, Italy


AIM: Involvement of many organs and apparatus such as heart, central and peripheral nervous systems have been reported in celiac disease. Autonomic neuropathy has frequently been reported both in untreated and in gluten free diet (GFD) adult patients and, to our knowledge, has never been investigated in celiac children. The aim of the study was to evaluate autonomic function in children with celiac disease.
METHODS: Fifteen children with untreated celiac disease were enrolled. Fifteen healthy children served as controls. None of the patients was diabetic. Central or peripheral neurological diseases, were absent. In all participants, at recruitment and after 24 months of GFD, serum anti-tTG and AEA levels, inflammatory markers, IgG, IgM and IgA anti-ganglioside antibodies, were performed. Heart rate variability indexes were employed to evaluate autonomic system balance.
RESULTS: Our results indicate that also children with celiac disease may exhibit an imbalance of the neurovegetative system with a prevailing sympathetic tone, persisting on a GFD. All presented symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, vomiting, meteorism, regurgitation in whom autonomic dysfunction could be involved, but these symptoms disappeared on gluten free diet. This tend to exclude the prevailing sympathetic tone as a main factor underlying symptoms of celiac disease.
CONCLUSION: Children affected by celiac disease exhibit an enhanced sympathetic tone, persisting after 24 months of GFD whereas gastrointestinal and systemic symptoms disappear. The pathogenesis of this phenomenon still remains unclear.

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