Prevalence of coeliac disease in Italian patients affected by Addison's disease

Federico Biagi, Jonia Campanella, Alessandra Soriani, Alberto Vailati, Gino R. Corazza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. It is well known that coeliac disease is associated with autoimmune endocrine diseases, such as autoimmune thyroid disease and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Recently, coeliac disease has been shown in ∼ 10% of patients with autoimmune Addison's disease. Addison's disease is the most common cause of primary adrenocortical insufficiency and it shares several clinical features with coeliac disease. Although hyperpigmentation and hypotension are the most specific signs, gastrointestinal symptoms are common and can be the first complaints of the patients. The aim of our study was to investigate the prevalence of coeliac disease in Italian patients with Addison's disease. Material and methods. Seventeen consecutive patients affected by Addison's disease (14 F, mean age 53.9 years, range 26-79 years) were enrolled in the study. Eleven of them were affected by Addison's disease associated with autoimmune thyroid disease and/or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus; the other 6 patients were suffering from isolated Addison's disease. Diagnosis had been performed at the age of 40.5 years (range 23-55). Steroid treatment had already been started in 16 of the patients. Endomysial antibodies were tested in all of them and a duodenal biopsy was taken in those found to be positive for antiendomysial antibody (EMA). Results. One out of 17 patients was found to be EMA positive. Duodenal biopsy confirmed the diagnosis of coeliac disease by showing subtotal villous atrophy. Conclusions. Although we studied only a small sample, our preliminary results confirmed that Addison's disease is associated with coeliac disease, being present in 5.9% of patients with Addison's disease. Since the symptoms can be similar and treatment of Addison's disease can mask coeliac disease, this association should always be actively investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-305
Number of pages4
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006


  • Addison's disease
  • Antiendomysial antibody
  • Autoimmunity
  • Coeliac disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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