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    Stiff person syndrome (SPS) is a rare autoimmune disease characterised by axial stiffness and episodic painful spasms. It is associated with additional autoimmune diseases and cerebellar ataxia. Most patients with SPS have high levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies. The aetiology of SPS remains unclear but autoimmunity is thought to play a major part. We have previously demonstrated overlap between anti-GAD ataxia and gluten sensitivity. We have also demonstrated the beneficial effect of a gluten-free diet (GFD) in patients with anti-GAD ataxia. Here, we describe our experience in the management of 20 patients with SPS. The mean age at symptom onset was 52 years. Additional autoimmune diseases were seen in 15/20. Nineteen of the 20 patients had serological evidence of gluten sensitivity and 6 had coeliac disease. Fourteen of the 15 patients who had brain imaging had evidence of cerebellar involvement. Twelve patients improved on GFD and in seven GFD alone was the only treatment required long term. Twelve patients had immunosuppression but only three remained on such medication. Gluten sensitivity plays an important part in the pathogenesis of SPS and GFD is an effective therapeutic intervention.


    Marios Hadjivassiliou, Panagiotis Zis, David S Sanders, Nigel Hoggard, Ptolemaios G Sarrigiannis. Stiff Person Syndrome and Gluten Sensitivity. Nutrients. 2021 Apr 20;13(4)

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    PMID: 33923904

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