eISSN: 1896-9151
ISSN: 1734-1922
Archives of Medical Science
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vol. 14
Clinical research

Histologic recovery among children with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet. A long-term follow-up single-center experience

Oana Belei, Andreea Dobrescu, Rodica Heredea, Emil Radu Iacob, Vlad David, Otilia Marginean

Arch Med Sci 2018; 14, 1: 94–100
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Introduction: Celiac disease (CD) is defined by gluten-induced immune-mediated enteropathy, affecting approximately 1% of the genetically predisposed population. The immunologic response to gluten causes characteristic intestinal alterations with gradual development. Histologic recovery of intestinal architecture was reported to occur within 6–12 months after starting a gluten-free diet, simultaneously with clinical remission. The aim of this study was to assess the rate and timing of histologic recovery among children with CD on a gluten-free diet, diagnosed and followed in an academic referral pediatric center during a 10-year period.

Material and methods: 105 biopsy-confirmed CD children underwent follow-up small intestinal biopsies within at least 1 year after dietary gluten withdrawal. Further biopsies were performed if villous alterations were persistent. The Marsh classification modified by Oberhuber was used to score the histologic injuries.

Results: In all 19 cases with Marsh type II at diagnosis, villous alterations normalized to Marsh type 0 within the first year. From 86 children enrolled with Marsh type III lesions, histologic remission was observed in 81.4% after 1 year, 91.8% within 2–3 years and 97.6% in long-term follow up (≥ 3 years). Two (2.3%) patients with concomitant selective IgA deficiency had symptoms of malabsorption and persisting villous atrophy lasting more than 3 years despite a gluten-free diet. There was a significant statistic difference between the proportion of children with Marsh type IIIA, type IIIB and Marsh type IIIC respectively that achieved histologic recovery within 1 to 2 years after gluten withdrawal. There were more children with partial 25 (92.6%) and subtotal villous atrophy 30 (88.2%) showing histologic improvement, compared to only 15 (60%) patients with total villous atrophy that recovered within the first 2 years of diet (p = 0.01 and p = 0.02 respectively).

Conclusions: Histologic recovery in CD after starting a gluten-free diet in children takes at least 1 year and might be incomplete only in a small proportion of children, mainly associated with IgA immunodeficiency. Systematic follow-up of children with CD and persistent malabsorption syndrome is needed in order to avoid secondary complications.

endoscopy, intestinal biopsy, villous atrophy

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