Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a syndrome diagnosed in patients with symptoms that respond to removal of gluten from the diet, after celiac disease and wheat allergy have been excluded. NCGS has been related to neuro-psychiatric disorders, such as autism, schizophrenia and depression. A singular report of NCGS presenting with hallucinations has been described in an adult patient. We report a pediatric case of a psychotic disorder clearly related to NCGS and investigate the causes by a review of literature. The pathogenesis of neuro-psychiatric manifestations of NCGS is unclear. It has been hypothesized that: (a) a “leaky gut” allows some gluten peptides to cross the intestinal membrane and the blood brain barrier, affecting the endogenous opiate system and neurotransmission; or (b) gluten peptides may set up an innate immune response in the brain similar to that described in the gut mucosa, causing exposure from neuronal cells of a transglutaminase primarily expressed in the brain. The present case-report confirms that psychosis may be a manifestation of NCGS, and may also involve children; the diagnosis is difficult with many cases remaining undiagnosed. Well-designed prospective studies are needed to establish the real role of gluten as a triggering factor in neuro-psychiatric disorders.
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