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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gluten sensitivity enteropathy in patients with recurrent aphthous stomatitis

Ramin Shakeri1, Farhad Zamani2, Rasoul Sotoudehmanesh1, Afsaneh Amiri2, Mehdi Mohamadnejad12, Fereydoun Davatchi3, Ali Mohammadi Karakani4, Reza Malekzadeh1 and Farhad Shahram3*

  • * Corresponding author: Farhad Shahram shahram@neda.net

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Digestive Disease Research Center (DDRC), Tehran University of medical sciences, Tehran, Iran

2 Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease Research Center (GILDRC), Iran University of Medical sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Rheumatology Research center, Tehran University of medical sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 Alborz Hospital, Social Security Organization, Karaj, Iran

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BMC Gastroenterology 2009, 9:44  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-9-44

Published: 17 June 2009

Abstract

Background

Gluten sensitive enteropathy (GSE) is an autoimmune enteropathy triggered by the ingestion of gluten-containing grains in susceptible individuals. Recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) may be the sole manifestation of GSE. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of gluten sensitivity enteropathy (GSE) in a large group of patients with RAS and assess the efficacy of gluten free diet (GFD) on the improvement of aphthous lesions in those who were diagnosed with GSE.

Methods

Two hundred and forty seven patients with RAS were included. The patients had at least three aphthous attacks per year. Patients were screened by IgA anti-endomysial antibody (EMA), IgA anti tissue transglutaminase (TTG) and serum IgA level. Those with a positive serology underwent endoscopic biopsies of the duodenal mucosa and patients with negative serology were excluded. The diagnosis of GSE was based on a positive serological test and abnormal duodenal histology. For patients with GSE, gluten free diet was recommended.

Results

Six out of 247 RAS patients had positive TTG test alone, and one had positive EMA and TTG. All 7 patients with positive serologic tests underwent duodenal biopsies. Histological findings were compatible with GSE in all of them (Marsh I in four patients, Marsh II in two patients and Marsh IIIB in one another.). The mean age of GSE patients was 27.42 ± 10.56 (range, 13 to 40) years old. They were suffering from RAS for an average duration of 4.5 years. All of the 7 GSE patients had not responded to the routine anti-aphthae medications, including topical corticosteroids, tetracycline and colchicine. Four patients who adhered to a strict gluten-free diet showed noticeable improvement in their aphthous lesions over a period of 6 months.

Conclusion

A significant minority (e.g. 2.83%) of RAS patients have GSE. This could be compared with the 0.9% prevalence of GSE in the general population of Iran. This study suggests that evaluation for celiac disease is appropriate in patients with RAS. Additionally, the unresponsiveness to conventional anti-aphthae treatment could be an additional risk indicator.