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Gluten sensitivity masquerading as systemic lupus erythematosus


Case reports: Three patients are described whose original presentation and immunological profile led to the erroneous diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus. The correct diagnosis of gluten sensitivity was made after years of treatment with steroids and other immunosuppressive drugs.

Conclusions: The immunological profile of IgA deficiency and/or raised double stranded DNA in the absence of antinuclear factor together with raised inflammatory markers and symptoms suggestive of an immune diathesis should alert the physician to the possibility of gluten sensitivity. The presence of an enteropathy is no longer a prerequisite for the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, which can solely present with extraintestinal symptoms and signs. Knowledge of the diverse manifestations of gluten sensitivity is essential in avoiding such misdiagnosis.

  • ANA, antinuclear antibodies
  • ANF, antinuclear factor
  • CD, coeliac disease
  • CRP, C reactive protein
  • CT, computed tomography
  • dsDNA, double stranded DNA
  • ENA, extractable nuclear antibodies
  • ESR, erythrocyte sedimentation rate
  • MRI, magnetic resonance imaging
  • SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • gluten sensitivity
  • systemic lupus erythematosus
  • coeliac disease

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