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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 17, Issue 7, Pages 433-436
Original Article

Biopsy-Defined Adult Celiac Disease in Asian-Canadians

Hugh James Freeman

Department of Medicine (Gastroenterology), University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Copyright © 2003 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Celiac disease is thought to be a genetically based disorder reported mainly from European countries as well as countries to which Europeans have emigrated, including North America. This report documents a clinical experience of biopsy-defined celiac disease in 14 Asians diagnosed since 1988 in a single Canadian teaching hospital. Eleven were Indo-Canadians, including 10 of Punjabi descent. Other ethnic groups were also represented, including two Japanese and one Chinese patient. Abdominal pain was the most frequent presenting symptom. Anemia, particularly associated with a deficiency of iron was common, along with diarrhea and weight loss. Endoscopic studies documented lymphocytic gastric and colonic mucosal changes in over one-third of the cases while antibodies for tissue transglutaminase were positive in all patients tested. Dermatitis herpetiformis, diabetes mellitus and autoimmune liver disease were also documented. These findings indicate for the first time that adult celiac disease occurs in Asian populations living in North America, particularly in those of Punjabi descent.