Klaus Pittschieler, Hans Reissigl, Giuseppe Mengarda

Celiac Disease in Two Different Population Groups of South Tirol

  • Gastroenterology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology and Child Health

SummaryThe expression of celiac disease is assumed to be influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Our study investigated the prevalence and HLA type in two different ethnic groups: a German group and an Italian group living in South Tirol. Intermarriages are rare between these population groups. The live birth rate during 1973–1982 (10 years) was 42,739 for the German group and 14,874 for the Italian group. Fifty people with celiac disease, born during this period, were diagnosed according to the ESPGAN criteria: 45 were German and five were Italian. The incidence in the German group was 105 per 100,000, and 33 per 100,000 in the Italian group. HLA typing was performed in 40 patients, and in 50 German and 50 Italian controls. Of the patients with celiac disease, 43% were positive for HLA B8, 85% for DR3, and 66% for DR7. Although lower, no difference was found in the expression of HLA B8, DR3, and DR7 in the Italian and German controls. The data presented here strongly suggest that there is little association between the incidence of the disease and HLA type in the two ethnic populations. However, from preliminary data, it is postulated that the age of the infant when gluten is added to its diet will affect the incidence of celiac disease.

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