Last updated on May 2020

Anemia in Non-celiac Wheat Sensitivity


Brief description of study

In recent years, a new gluten- or wheat-related disease has emerged, a condition labelled "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" (NCGS) or "non-celiac wheat sensitivity" (NCWS). This is very often a self-reported condition, since patients refer to intestinal [mainly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-like] and/or extra-intestinal symptoms (i.e. fatigue, headache, anemia) caused by gluten or wheat ingestion, even though they do not suffer from celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy (WA).

Among the extra-intestinal symptoms, several studies have shown, in patients with NCWS, the presence of anemia, generally mild, often with iron or folate deficiency characteristics, but no research has ever been planned with the specific intention of analyze this particular aspect of the disease.

Therefore, the aim of the present multicentric research was to analyze, both retrospectively and prospectively, the laboratory data of NCWS patients, compared to CD and IBS controls, to identify: a) the presence, severity and morphologic characteristic of anemia; 2) possible pathogenic mechanisms.

Detailed Study Description

In recent years, a new gluten- or wheat-related disease has emerged, a condition labelled "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" (NCGS) or "non-celiac wheat sensitivity" (NCWS). This is very often a self-reported condition, since patients refer to intestinal [mainly irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-like] and/or extra-intestinal symptoms (i.e. fatigue, headache, anemia) caused by gluten or wheat ingestion, even though they do not suffer from celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy (WA).

There are conflicting data about the real mechanisms which induce symptoms in NCGS/NCWS patients after wheat ingestion. Some authors suggested a prevalent role for Fermentable Oligosaccharides-Disaccharides-Monosaccharides and Polyols (FODMAPs), rather than gluten in determining the symptoms. Other studies underlined the activation of mechanisms of both innate and acquired immunity in NCWS patients after wheat ingestion.

Given the lack of a diagnostic biomarker, NCGS/NCWS mostly remains a diagnosis of exclusion, especially respect to CD and WA, so a confirmatory test is required. The "Salerno criteria" suggested the double-blind, placebo-controlled (DBPC), cross-over, gluten/wheat challenge as the gold standard test to discriminate true NCGS/NCWS patients.

By definition, NCGS/NCWS symptoms generally occur after the ingestion of gluten/wheat, disappear within a few days of a gluten-free diet (GFD) and quickly reappear when gluten/wheat is, voluntarily or accidentally, reintroduced. However, GDF is very difficult and onerous from a social (presence of gluten in many industrial food products and "contamination", both domestic and extra-domestic), psychological (e.g. for adolescents, exclusion from the "peer group", with difficulty in accepting the diagnosis) and economic point of view.

Among the extra-intestinal symptoms, several studies have shown, in patients with NCWS, the presence of anemia, generally mild, often with iron or folate deficiency characteristics, but no research has ever been planned with the specific intention of analyze this particular aspect of the disease.

Therefore, the aim of the present multicentric research was to analyze, both retrospectively and prospectively, the laboratory data of NCWS patients, compared to CD and IBS controls, to identify: a) the presence, severity and morphologic characteristic of anemia; 2) possible pathogenic mechanisms, with particular attention to iron, vitamin B12 and folate metabolism, thyroid hormones, and autoimmune gastric involvement.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT04377061

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Recruitment Status: Open


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