Predictors of persistent villous atrophy in coeliac disease: A population-based study

B. Lebwohl, J. A. Murray, A. Rubio-Tapia, P. H.R. Green, J. F. Ludvigsson

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66 Scopus citations


Background Villous atrophy (VA) with intraepithelial lymphocytosis is the histological hallmark of coeliac disease (CD), but reported rates of mucosal recovery are variable. Aim To determine the impact of age and other demographic variables on the probability of persistent VA on follow-up biopsy. Methods We identified patients with VA on duodenal histology at all 28 Swedish pathology departments during the years spanning 1969-2008. We examined age, gender, calendar period, duration of disease and educational attainment to determine predictors of persistent VA. Results Of 7648 patients with CD who underwent follow-up biopsy, persistent VA was present in 3317 (43%; 95% CI 42-44%). The effect of age on persistent VA varied according to time period; among those biopsied in the years spanning 2000-2008, the prevalence of persistent VA was 31%, and increasing age was associated with increasing rates of persistent VA (17% among those younger than 2 years compared to 56% among those ≥70 years). In contrast, persistent VA did not vary widely by age in earlier years. On multivariate analysis (restricted to the calendar period 2000-2008, 2-5 years after CD diagnosis), persistent VA was more common among males (OR 1.43; 95% CI 1.07-1.90) and less common among patients with higher educational attainment (OR for college degree vs. <2 years of high school 0.52, 95% CI 0.35-0.78). Conclusions The prevalence of persistent villous atrophy has changed over time, with greater rates of healing in recent years. Social differences in persistent villous atrophy suggest that access and/or education regarding the gluten-free diet impact mucosal healing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)488-495
Number of pages8
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Mar 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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