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Prevalence of celiac disease serological markers in a cohort of Italian rheumatological patients.

AIM: To assess the prevalence of celiac disease (CD) serological markers in a cohort of patients referred to an Italian rheumatological outpatient clinic.

BACKGROUND: Current guidelines do not suggest CD screening in patients with rheumatological diseases and these subjects are not considered to be at high risk for CD.

METHODS: A total of 230 sera of rheumatological patients referred to the Division of Internal Medicine at the Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences between January 2005 and December 2013 were screened for CD by testing IgA antitransglutaminase (TTG IgA), IgG deamidated gliadin peptides (DGP IgG) and IgA antiendomysium (EMA) antibodies. Of the 230 patients tested, 67 had a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), 52 Sjögren's syndrome (SjS), 42 systemic sclerosis (SCL), 35 systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 15 mixed connective tissue disease, 11 polymyositis and 10 dermatomyositis.

RESULTS: TTG IgA antibodies were identified in 7/230 cases (3%), 3 in SjS (3/42 - 5.8%), 2 in SCL (2/42 - 4.8%), 1 in RA (1/67 - 1.5%) and 1 in SLE sera (1/35 - 2.8%). All the seven sera were also positive for DGP IgG and EMA IgA. DGP IgG were the most frequent antibody detected, being found in 16 (7%) sera.

CONCLUSION: This study identified a high prevalence of CD antibodies in adult patients referred to a rheumatology outpatient clinic. These results highlight the importance of CD screening in subjects presenting with rheumatological features.

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