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Gluten-Free Diet Impact on Leptin Levels in Asymptomatic Coeliac Adolescents: One Year of Follow-Up

Maggio M.C.a · Corsello G.a · Iacono G.c · Teresi S.b · Guicciardino E.b · Terrana S.a · Liotta A.a
aDepartment ‘Materno-Infantile’, University of Palermo, bAnalysis Laboratory, and cUnit of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Children’s Hospital ‘G. Di Cristina’, Palermo, Italy Horm Res 2007;67:100–104 (DOI:10.1159/000096422)

Abstract

Coeliac disease, daily more frequently diagnosed in our population, involves many organs also in oligosymptomatic patients and with an adequate nutritional regime. Possible endocrine implications include failure to thrive, pubertal delay and reproduction diseases due to deregulation of GH, FSH and LH secretion. Leptin, an adipose tissue hormone, can be decreased as well and its deficiency could be related to growth and puberty anomalies. We studied 14 asymptomatic coeliac patients in peripubertal age (7.5–13.8 years) and tested their leptin levels in order to correlate them with endocrine and anthropometric data. Before the diet was started leptinaemia (M±DS) was: 4.94 ± 5.53 ng/ml. In 10/14 patients (71%) leptinaemia was ≤2 DS for gender and age. In all the patients, after a period of 6–12 months of gluten-free diet, Leptin levels appreciably raised to 10.8 ± 7.9 ng/ml, with a significant correlation to the time of the diet. Leptinaemia was actually lower in patients with a severe mucosal atrophy, and in these patients it increased more significantly after the diet was started. The removal of gluten itself may reduce immunological hit to adipose tissue and the ‘malnutrition’ of adipocytes: leptin can hence increase despite no significant increase of body mass index occurs. This study could partially explain the correlation between body mass index, Coeliac disease and the deregulation of puberty and fertility, mainly in patients who started the diet late. It could also explain the reversibility of this alteration if the cause is removed.

 

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