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Original Investigation
February 28, 2005

Increased Prevalence of Celiac Disease and Need for Routine Screening Among Patients With Osteoporosis

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Divisions of Gastroenterology (Drs Stenson and Newberry) and Bone and Mineral Metabolism (Ms Baldus and Dr Civitelli), Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Mo; and Department of Pathology, University of Alabama School of Medicine, Birmingham (Dr Lorenz).

Arch Intern Med. 2005;165(4):393-399. doi:10.1001/archinte.165.4.393

Background  There is an increased prevalence of osteoporosis among patients with celiac disease. However, the relative prevalence of celiac disease among osteoporotic and nonosteoporotic populations is not known, and the benefit of screening the osteoporotic population for celiac disease remains controversial.

Methods  We evaluated 840 individuals, 266 with and 574 without osteoporosis, from the Washington University Bone Clinic by serologic screening for celiac disease. Individuals with positive serologic test results for antitissue transglutaminase or antiendomysial antibody were offered endoscopic intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease. Individuals with biopsy-proven celiac disease were treated with a gluten-free diet and followed up for improvement in bone mineral density.

Results  Twelve (4.5%) of 266 patients with osteoporosis and 6 (1.0%) of 574 patients without osteoporosis tested positive by serologic screening for celiac disease. All but 2 serologically positive individuals underwent in-testinalbiopsy. Nine osteoporotic patients and 1 nonosteoporotic patient had positive biopsy results. The prevalence of biopsy-proven celiac disease was 3.4% among the osteoporotic population and 0.2% among the nonosteoporotic population. All biopsy-positive individuals tested positive by antitissue transglutaminase and antiendomysial antibody. The antitissue transglutaminase levels correlated with the severity of osteoporosis as measured by T score, demonstrating that the more severe the celiac disease the more severe the resulting osteoporosis. Treatment of the patients with celiac disease with a gluten-free diet resulted in marked improvement in T scores.

Conclusions  The prevalence of celiac disease among osteoporotic individuals (3.4%) is much higher than that among nonosteoporotic individuals (0.2%). The prevalence of celiac disease in osteoporosis is high enough to justify a recommendation for serologic screening of all patients with osteoporosis for celiac disease.