Silent Celiac Disease in Patients with Childhood Localization-Related Epilepsies


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. A. Gambardella at Cattedra ed U.O. di Neurologia, Università degli studi “Magna Graecia,” Policlinico Mater Domini, Via Tommaso Campanella, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy. E-mail: Dr. R.L. Oliveri is deceased.


Summary:  Purpose: To evaluate how many patients with a clinical picture of idiopathic childhood localization-related epilepsies may also have silent celiac disease (CD). This will help determine whether investigation for CD should be restricted to those patients with childhood partial epilepsy with occipital paroxysms (CPEO) or should be extended to all patients with childhood partial epilepsy (CPE) regardless of seizure type and electroencephalographic (EEG) paroxysms.

Methods: The study group consisted of 72 patients (31 girls and 41 boys; mean age, 12.6 ± 4.28 years; age at onset, 6.4 ± 3.7 years) who were observed consecutively over a 5-year period and who received an initial diagnosis of idiopathic CPE. A diagnosis of CD was confirmed by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to assess the presence of antigliadin antibodies and the immunofluorescent undirected test to assess the presence of antiendomysium antibodies.

Results: Twenty-five patients had CPEO, whereas the remaining 47 had CPE with centrotemporal spikes (CPEC). None of the patients with CPEC had positive antibody tests. Of the 25 patients with CPEO, two (8%) had antiendomysium immunoglobulin (Ig) A antibodies. In both of these patients, the jejunal biopsy showed atrophy of the villi and hyperplasia of the crypts, consistent with a diagnosis of CD. Brain computed tomography (CT) was normal in one of these patients and revealed occipital corticosubcortical calcifications in the other.

Conclusions: Our study indicates that CD screening should be performed routinely only in patients with CPEO.