Growth hormone impaired secretion and antipituitary antibodies in patients with coeliac disease and poor catch-up growth after a long gluten-free diet period: a causal association?
Coeliac disease (CD) is usually associated with impaired growth in children. A gluten-free diet (GFD) induces a catch-up growth with the recovery of height in about 2 years.
Aim and discussion
The lack of the height improvement has been related to growth hormone (GH) secretion impairment. CD is an autoimmune disease often associated with other endocrine and non-endocrine autoimmune disease. The aim of this study was to evaluate antipituitary autoantibodies (APA) and antihypothalamus autoantibodies in CD children with poor clinical response to a GFD and growth hormone deficiency (GHD). We diagnosed CD on the basis of specific antibodies and endoscopic biopsies in 130 patients aged 1–15 years. Seven CD children, without catch-up growth after at least 12-months GFD, were tested for GH secretion and, in five out of seven patients, the diagnosis of GHD was made in the absence of metabolic and systemic diseases.
APA and antihypothalamus antibodies were detected by the indirect immunofluorescence method in the seven CD children without catch-up growth factor and in 25 CD children without growth impairment matched for sex and age, and in 58 healthy children as control groups. APA resulted positive at high titres in four out of five CD-GHD patients and were also positive at low titres (<1:8) in three of only CD children and in two out of 58 controls. Hypothalamic-pituitary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was normal in all patients except in one with cystic pineal. APA have been previously detected not only in adults with GHD, but also in idiopathic GHD children, suggesting the occurrence of an autoimmune hypophysitis in these patients.
In our study, the presence of APA in CD children without catch-up growth after GFD seems to be able to identify an autoimmune form of hypophysitis involving the somatotrophs cells.
KeywordsAntipituitary antibodiesCoeliac diseaseGluten-free dietCatch-up growthIdiopathic growth hormone deficiency
Body mass index
Growth hormone deficiency
Growth hormone releasing hormone
Insulin-like growth factor 1
IGF-binding protein 3
Magnetic resonance imaging
Type 1 diabetes mellitus