Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity in patients with severe abdominal pain and bloating: The accuracy of Alcat 5

Michele Di Stefano, Eugenia Vittoria Pesatori,

Giulia Francesca Manfredi, Mara De Amici, Giacomo Grandi,

Alessandro Gabriele, Davide Iozzi, Giuseppe Di Fede

 

Published in Clinical Nutrition ESPEN (European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism)

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Summary

Background and aims

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) is a recently proposed clinical condition causing both intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms, without gastrointestinal lesions, which improve on avoiding gluten intake, in the absence of celiac disease and wheat allergy. The prevalence of this condition is still a matter of debate, in part due to the very recent introduction of an accepted diagnostic test, a double-blind, placebo controlled gluten challenge. However, this is a lengthy and cumbersome procedure, theoretically burdened by a significant reduction of patient compliance. Alcat 5 is an automated in vitro test evaluating the toxic effect of gluten on neutrophils by the exposure of these cells to a gluten-containing extract of gluten-containing cereals. The test is very simple to perform, the results are rapidly obtained, and might represent, if sufficiently accurate, a promising alternative to diagnose gluten intolerance. The aim of this study was the comparison of Alcat 5 results with those of a double-blind, placebo-controlled, gluten challenge, in a group of patients with clinically-suspected NCGS.

Methods

Twenty-five patients (M/F 3/22, mean age 32 ± 4 yrs) with severe functional abdominal pain and bloating, who had previously undergone the Alcat 5 test, were enrolled. All the subjects reported their symptoms on a gluten-containing diet and considered gluten the causal agent. Following the Salerno Experts’ Criteria, they underwent a double-blind, placebo controlled trial with gluten vs placebo. A mean value during gluten ingestion >30% of the value during placebo was considered as indicative of gluten sensitivity.

Results

After blinded administration of gluten, 13 out of 25 (52%) patients showed an increase in the severity of abdominal pain, and 11 out of 25 (44%) showed an increase in the severity of abdominal bloating. Considering these two symptoms together, in 16 patients out of 25 (64%), blinded gluten administration induced an increase of abdominal pain and/or bloating. The Alcat 5 test proved to be positive in 20 and negative in 5 patients. In sixteen patients out of 25 the result of Alcat 5 agreed with the double-blind trial (64%). In particular, both tests were positive in 14 patients and negative in 2.

Conclusions

In this subgroup of patients, Alcat 5 could be used to support the clinical suspicion of the presence of NCGS and to address these patients to a blinded gluten challenge.