High Prevalence of Microvascular Complications in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes and Newly Diagnosed Celiac Disease

  1. David S. Sanders, MD1
  1. 1Gastroenterology and Liver Unit, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, U.K.
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, U.K.
  3. 3Department of Diabetes, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, U.K.
  1. Corresponding author: John S. Leeds, jsleeds{at}


OBJECTIVE The implications of celiac disease (CD) in adult patients with type 1 diabetes are unknown, with respect to diabetes-related outcomes including glycemic control, lipids, microvascular complications, quality of life, and the effect of a gluten-free diet (GFD). We identified CD in adults with type 1 diabetes and investigated the effect of a GFD on diabetes-related complications.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS This was a case-control study conducted at a U.K. teaching hospital. Patients with type 1 diabetes aged >16 years (n = 1,000) were assessed for CD. HbA1c, lipid profile, quality of life, retinopathy stage, nephropathy stage, and degree of neuropathy before and after 1 year on a GFD were assessed.

RESULTS The prevalence of CD was 33 per 1,000 subjects (3.3% [95% CI 2.3–4.6]). At diagnosis of CD, adult type 1 diabetic patients had worse glycemic control (8.2 vs. 7.5%, P = 0.05), lower total cholesterol (4.1 vs. 4.9, P = 0.014), lower HDL cholesterol (1.1 vs. 1.6, P = 0.017), and a higher prevalence of retinopathy (58.3 vs. 25%, P = 0.02), nephropathy (41.6 vs. 4.2%, P = 0.009), and peripheral neuropathy (41.6 vs. 16.6%, P = 0.11). There was no difference in quality of life (P > 0.1). After 1 year on a GFD, only the lipid profile improved overall, but in adherent individuals HbA1c and markers for nephropathy improved.

CONCLUSIONS Adults with undetected CD and type 1 diabetes have worse glycemic control and a higher prevalence of retinopathy and nephropathy. Treatment with a GFD for 1 year is safe in adults with type 1 diabetes and does not have a negative impact on the quality of life.

  • Received January 23, 2011.
  • Accepted July 1, 2011.

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  1. Diabetes Care
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