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Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis and Celiac Disease: A Novel Association

J. Eileen Hay, MB, ChB; Russell H. Wiesner, MD; Roy G. Shorter, MD; Nicholas F. LaRusso, MD; and William P. Baldus, MD
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Requests for Reprints: Russell H. Wiesner, MD, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Hay, Wiesner, Shorter, LaRusso, and Baldus: Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905.


©1988 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1988;109(9):713-717. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-109-9-713
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The association of primary sclerosing cholangitis and celiac disease was observed in three patients, an association not previously reported. All three patients were men who presented with chronic cholestatic liver disease at ages 32, 46, and 62 years, respectively. In each patient, endoscopic retrograde cholangiography showed the typical findings of primary sclerosing cholangitis. Histologic features of liver biopsy were compatible with the diagnosis. Two patients had associated chronic ulcerative colitis. All three patients complained of frequent loose stools and weight loss; subsequent testing showed severe steatorrhea (204 to 323 mmol/d of fecal fat on a 100 g fat diet). Total villous atrophy was found in all three patients on histologic examination of the small bowel. Celiac disease was diagnosed at the time of presentation in two patients who had primary sclerosing cholangitis and was diagnosed three years after the onset of primary sclerosing cholangitis in the third patient. The celiac disease responded to a gluten-free diet in each patient whereas the primary sclerosing cholangitis was not affected by dietary treatment. The possibility of a chance association of primary sclerosing cholangitis and celiac disease cannot be accurately assessed but seems unlikely given the rarity of both diseases. The relationship between the two diseases remains unknown, although an immunologic connection is suspected. Celiac disease should be considered in the differential diagnosis of severe steatorrhea in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis.

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