Celiac disease is frequently associated with other auto-immune disorders but has never been reported in association with alopecia areata. In a routine clinical practice, 3 patients with such an association were observed. In one of the patients, celiac disease was diagnosed after the occurrence of malabsorption symptoms. In the youngest patient, a 14-year-old boy, glutenfree diet resulted in complete regrowth of scalp and body hair. A prospective screening program for celiac disease using antigliadin and antiendomysial antibodies was therefore set up in 256 consecutive outpatients with alopecia areata. Three patients, all completely asymptomatic for intestinal diseases, were found to be positive and underwent biopsy. Histological analysis showed a flat intestinal mucosa consistent with the diagnosis of celiac disease. The results show that alopecia areata may constitute the only clinical manifestation of celiac disease and that the association between these two conditions is a real one because the observed frequency of association is much greater than can be expected by chance. It is suggested that antigliadin and antiendomysial antibodies should be included in the work-up of patients with alopecia areata.
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