Background: Gluten neuropathy (GN) is defined as an otherwise idiopathic peripheral neuropathy in the presence of serological evidence of gluten sensitivity (positive native gliadin antibodies and/or transglutaminase or endomysium antibodies). We aimed to compare the quality of life (QoL) of GN patients with that of control subjects and to investigate the effects of a gluten-free diet (GFD) on the QoL. Methods: All consecutive patients with GN attending a specialist neuropathy clinic were invited to participate. The Overall Neuropathy Limitations Scale (ONLS) was used to assess the severity of the neuropathy. The 36-Item Short Form Survey (SF-36) questionnaire was used to measure participants’ QoL. A strict GFD was defined as effectively being able to eliminate all circulating gluten sensitivity-related antibodies. Results: Fifty-three patients with GN and 53 age- and gender-matched controls were recruited. Compared to controls, GN patients showed significantly worse scores in the physical functioning, role limitations due to physical health, energy/fatigue, and general health subdomains of the SF-36. After adjusting for age, gender, and disease severity, being on a strict GFD correlated with better SF-36 scores in the pain domain of the SF-36 (beta 0.317, p
= 0.019) and in the overall health change domain of the SF-36 (beta 0.306, p
= 0.017). Conclusion: In GN patients, physical dysfunctioning is the major determinant of poor QoL compared to controls. Routine checking of the elimination of gluten sensitivity-related antibodies that results from a strict GFD should be encouraged, as such elimination ameliorates the overall pain and health scores, indicating a better QoL.
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