Levels of antiphospholipid antibodies were significantly higher in adults with celiac disease compared with healthy controls, and gluten was not a factor, according to a study published in Digestive and Liver Disease (Dig Liver Dis. 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.dld.2017.11.018).

“In inflammatory bowel diseases active prophylaxis and treatment of thromboembolic complications is considered appropriate despite the increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding,” wrote Outi Laine, MD, of Tampere University, Finland, and colleagues.

Results from previous studies suggest that thrombophilic autoantibodies are increased in celiac disease patients, but data are limited, the researchers wrote. In this study, the researchers measured antiphospholipid antibodies (cardiolipin IgG and M, prothrombin IgG, and aPS/PT IgG) in 179 adults with celiac disease (89 untreated, 90 on long-term gluten-free diets) and 91 nonceliac controls. Demographic characteristics were similar among the groups; the average age of the patients was 48 years in the untreated celiac disease group, 58 years in the treated group, and 45 years in the control group. In addition, the presentation of disease (gastrointestinal symptoms, malabsorption or anemia, and extraintestinal symptoms or screen-detected celiac disease) was similar among the groups.

Overall, the levels of antiphospholipid antibodies were significantly higher among celiac disease patients compared with controls 4.9 U/mL vs. 2.2 U/mL respectively, for anticardiolipin; 2.9 U/mL vs. 2.1 U/mL for antiprothrombin IgG, and 6.9 U/mL vs. 2.3 U/mL for antiphosphatidylserine-prothrombin. All three were higher among the untreated celiac disease patients compared with the treated patients.

“Treated patients with the highest levels of cardiolipin IgG and prothrombin IgG antibodies and aPS/PT were older than the newly diagnosed, untreated patients. This observation suggests that the formation of antibodies is not triggered by gluten but is related to the autoimmune-based celiac disease itself,” the researchers wrote.

The study was not designed to assess the impact of antiphospholipid antibodies on thrombosis, the researchers noted. However, “To guide therapeutic decisions, the optimal predictive biomarkers for thromboembolic episodes in patients with celiac disease should be determined,” and future areas of research should include identifying patients at high risk for thromboembolic episodes, they said.

The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose. The study was funded in part by organizations including the Competitive State Research Financing of the Expert Responsibility Area of Tampere University Hospital, the Academy of Finland, and the Finnish Association of Hematology.


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