Objectives: Ghrelin, a gastrointestinal hormone, has effects on nutrient intake and growth. Because celiac disease (CD) has intestinal histopathologic alterations and subsequent malnutrition and/or growth failure, we hypothesized that there would be alterations in serum ghrelin levels of those patients. In this study, we aimed to determine serum ghrelin levels in childhood CD, to observe probable alterations under gluten-free diet (GFD), and to see whether there is a relationship between ghrelin levels and the presentation of the disease and/or diet compliance.
Methods: Thirty-six children with CD and 10 healthy children were included. Serum fasting ghrelin level was measured using radioimmunoassay method. After 6 months under GFD, sera of 19 patients were retested for ghrelin level.
Results: Mean serum ghrelin levels in children with CD and in controls were 478.2±154.6 and 108.3±49.1 pg/mL, respectively (P<0.001). Serum ghrelin level was not different in different clinical presentations. Ghrelin was negatively correlated with body mass index, both in healthy children and in children with CD on admission (P<0.01). Ghrelin level was lower after 6 months under GFDcompared with the level detected on admission (P<0.001), but was still higher compared with that of healthy children (P<0.001). Strict diet compliance lowered ghrelin level, although not statistically.
Conclusions: Ghrelin is increased in childhood CD and is responsive to GFD. Further studies are needed to clarify the mechanism underlying its action in CD.