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Serum prolactin in coeliac schoolchildren
  1. G Fanciulli1,
  2. P A Tomasi1,
  3. G Delitala1,
  4. A D’Appello2,
  5. G Fanciulli Sr2
  1. 1Dipartimento–Struttura Clinica Medica–Patologia Speciale Medica, University of Sassari, Italy
  2. 2Divisione di Pediatria, Ospedale Civile di Alghero, Italy
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr G Fanciulli, Dipartimento–Struttura Clinica Medica–Patologia Speciale Medica, University of Sassari, Viale S. Pietro 8, 07100 Sassari, Italy;

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Literature published suggests that in children with coeliac disease (CD) serum prolactin concentrations are increased, and correlate with the grade of mucosal atrophy. It has been proposed that prolactin is a possible marker of disease activity.1 Other studies, however, have failed to show this correlation in children with CD.2

We studied prolactin levels in children with CD, and the correlation with the severity of intestinal mucosal atrophy.

We used samples from a serum bank obtained during a mass screening for CD in Sardinian schoolchildren, using both antiendomysial antibodies and antigliadin antibodies as screening tests, as previously described.3 The sample included 20 children with CD on a gluten containing diet (16 girls, 4 boys, mean age 12.9 years, range 11.5–14.4 years) and 40 sex and age matched normal children (32 girls, 8 boys, mean age 13.0 years, range 11.2–14.8 years). All subjects were euthyroid. Prolactin was assayed in duplicate using a commercial immunoradiometric method; results were analysed by analysis of covariance.

Data are expressed as mean (SE). Prolactin levels were 4.62 (2.1) ng/ml in patients with CD and 5.90 (2.6) ng/ml in controls (no statistically significant difference). No correlation was found between prolactin concentrations and the degree of intestinal damage (Marsh criteria).

Our study did not confirm the increased prolactin concentrations in children with CD reported by Reifen and colleagues.1 Our population differed somewhat in that there was a higher mean age (12.9 v 11.3 years), a narrower age range (11.5–14.4 v 5–18 years), and a different girl:boy ratio (4:1 v 1:1). Furthermore, our study included three potential coeliacs (subjects with antiendomysium antibodies positivity but normal intestinal biopsy4) and 11 asymptomatic coeliac children. The hypothesis that the normal prolactin values observed in our study may be due at least in part to the different clinical characteristics of the population studied is plausible, but its validation requires a specifically designed study.


Study performed using grant 34/39-2000 (Coeliac disease and iodine-deficiency diseases) to GD from Regione Sardegna.