Letter: Gluten-free diet

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The Independent Online
From Mr M Hadjivassiliou

and others

Sir: In an article ("Gluten-free diet `may alleviate ME' ", 9 February), you suggested an association between gluten sensitivity and myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).

Our research on which the article was based ("Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness?", The Lancet 1996; 10 February) did not have any implication for those suffering from ME. Indeed, none of the patients we studied had ME.

We showed that a large number of patients with neurological illness, whose aetiology remained obscure in spite of extensive investigations had sensitivity to gluten. Sensitivity to this protein found in wheat, rye and barley causes coeliac disease in some patients. A significant proportion of our patients were found to have coeliac disease which was previously unsuspected. We are postulating that antibodies against gluten may directly or indirectly cause damage to neural tissue.

Gluten-free diet may have important therapeutic implications for patients with neurological illness besides those with coeliac disease.

Yours faithfully,

M Hadjivassiliou, A Gibson,

G A B Davies-Jones

Department of Clinical


The University of Sheffield