Gluten ataxia

Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 3 Dec 2021

Gluten ataxia is a relatively common central nervous system manifestation of celiac disease and is usually encountered in individuals who do not have overt gastrointestinal symptoms. 

Gluten ataxia is encountered in both pediatric and adult celiac populations. It is a fairly common cause of all sporadic ataxias 2

Gluten ataxia presents with cerebellar ataxia, sometimes with concurrent sensory ataxia, primarily affecting the lower limbs and gait 2,3. A less common manifestation is ataxia with myoclonus 3.

Gastrointestinal symptoms are usually absent, found in only 10% of individuals, and on duodenal biopsy, a diagnosis of celiac disease can be made in on half of patients 2. As such, the diagnosis of gluten ataxia requires screening for antibodies associated with celiac disease: anti-gliadin, anti-EMA, anti-TG2, and anti-TG6 antibodies 2

There is some evidence that gluten-dependent transglutaminase 6 (TG6) autoantibodies react against cells within the cerebellum 1

The main imaging finding is that of cerebellar atrophy that is usually gradual but in some cases can be rapid 3

Treatment is primarily with strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. In many individuals, objective and subjective improvement in ataxia can be demonstrated 2

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.