The prevalence of celiac disease among patients with nonconstipated irritable bowel syndrome is similar to controls

Brooks D. Cash*, Joel H. Rubenstein, Patrick E. Young, Andrew Gentry, Borko Nojkov, Dong Lee, A. Hirsohi Andrews, Richard Dobhan, William D. Chey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Guidelines recommend that patients with symptoms of nonconstipated irritable bowel syndrome (NC-IBS) undergo testing for celiac disease (CD). We evaluated the prevalence of CD antibodies, and biopsy confirmed CD among patients with NC-IBS in a large US population. Methods: In a study conducted at 4 sites, from 2003 to 2008, we compared data from 492 patients with symptoms of NC-IBS to 458 asymptomatic individuals who underwent colonoscopy examinations for cancer screening or polyp surveillance (controls). All participants provided blood samples for specific and nonspecific CD-associated antibodies. Additionally, patients with IBS were analyzed for complete blood cell counts, metabolic factors, erythrocyte sedimentation rates, and levels of C-reactive protein and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Any subjects found to have CD-associated antibodies were offered esophagogastroduodenoscopy and duodenal biopsy analysis. Results: Of patients with NC-IBS, 7.3% had abnormal results for CD-associated antibodies, compared with 4.8% of controls (adjusted odds ratio, 1.49; 95% confidence interval: 0.762.90; P =.25). Within the NC-IBS group, 6.51% had antibodies against gliadin, 1.22% against tissue transglutaminase, and 0.61% against endomysium (P >.05 vs controls for all antibodies tested). CD was confirmed in 0.41% of patients in the NC-IBS group and 0.44% of controls (P >.99). Conclusions: Although CD-associated antibodies are relatively common, the prevalence of CD among patients with NC-IBS is similar to that among controls in a large US population. These findings challenge recommendations to routinely screen patients with NC-IBS for CD. More than 7% of patients with NC-IBS had CD-associated antibodies, suggesting that gluten sensitivity might mediate IBS symptoms; further studies are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1187-1193
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Celiac Disease Incidence
  • Epidemiology
  • Inflammation
  • Population Study


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