Effect of gluten-free diet on cerebellar MR spectroscopy in gluten ataxia

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Objective:To evaluate the effect of gluten free diet (GFD) on magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) of the cerebellum in patients with gluten ataxia (GA).Methods:Patients with GA, defined as sporadic ataxia with positive antigliadin antibodies in the absence of an alternative cause, routinely undergo MRS at baseline and after the introduction of GFD as part of their clinical care. We present our experience of the effect of GFD on MRS of the cerebellum.Results:A total of 117 consecutive patients with GA were included in this report. Sixty-three were on strict GFD with elimination of antigliadin antibodies, 35 were on GFD but were still positive for antigliadin antibodies, and 19 patients opted not to go on GFD. The N-acetylaspartate (NAA)/creatine (Cr) area ratio from the cerebellar vermis increased in 62 out of 63 (98%) patients on strict GFD, in 9 of 35 (26%) patients on GFD but positive antibodies, and in only 1 of 19 (5%) patients not on GFD. The NAA/Cr ratio decreased in all 14 ataxia control patients (cerebellar variant of multisystem atrophy). There were no differences in the MRS results between those patients who had and those who did not have enteropathy (celiac disease) within each group.Conclusions:The demonstration of increased NAA/Cr ratio on repeat scanning following strict GFD strengthens previous findings of clinical improvement of the ataxia in patients with GA. The presence of enteropathy is not a prerequisite for such improvement; therefore patients with positive serology and negative duodenal biopsy should still be treated with strict GFD.

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