Celiac Disease’s Effects on Lymph Nodes

Celiac disease, a condition of an intolerance to gluten – a product of wheat and rye  – is a worsening condition within the United States and North America.  Some studies suggest that nearly 3.5% of the population within North America suffers from this gluten-intolerance.   Celiac Lymph Nodes are a series of nodes that are located along the walls of the Celiac artery.  These nodes are utilized for the drainage of Lymph.  Lymph is a fluid which carries and deposits proteins back into circulation within the body via the intestinal lymphatic trunks.

 

Lymph, in addition to protein, can carry bacteria and other harmful cells to lymph nodes, which in turn destroy the cells.  When lymph nodes in the body fail to act properly, the lymph nodes can swell with these bacteria or harmful cells and cause failures of the immune system.  Because having Celiac disease affects the Celiac Lymph Nodes, monitoring the lymphatic system of an individual for symptoms of Celiac disease can be a great tool in proper diagnosis of Celiac disease.   Many individuals who have Celiac disease will find they have issues of the lymph nodes as well.  It is common for sufferers of Celiac disease to find that they consistently have swollen lymph nodes throughout their neck, jaw, and other areas of the body.  A swollen lymph node is no reason to cause alarm or panic.  That being said, a swollen lymph node should be taken seriously and monitored often for change.

 

Typically, a swollen lymph node will subside with or without antibiotics.  Because Celiac disease can affect the body in so many different ways, it is highly recommended that those individuals suffering from Celiac disease check their lymph nodes often.  Swelling of the lymph nodes that does not subside either after time or the administration of antibiotics should be tested for cancerous cells through a biopsy.  Many patients have actually undergone the laparotomy & excision of nodes as lymphoma was suspected. The lymph nodes have the rim of the atrophic lymphocytes with the central cavitation having the milky fluid & lipid droplets. Cause of the cavitation is attributed to the mesenteric lymphoid depletion & effect of the antigenic material crossing the abnormal intestinal mucosa.

 

The low attenuation lymphadenopathy generally has the limited differential diagnosis that includes celiac disease, tuberculosis Whipple’s disease, necrotic metastases, , lymphoma, and the germ cell tumors. The cavitary lymph nodes are reported in the Whipple’s disease, however lymph nodes having fat—the fluid levels are reported just in the celiac disease. Biochemical, clinical & histologic reaction to the gluten free diet; the small bowel biopsy; check of antibodies to (increased serum level) gliadin, the substance found in the wheat; and antibodies of endomysium, the extracellular protein in bowel wall, will help to confirm diagnosis of the celiac disease. In a few patients, the presentation of the celiac disease is very mild, atypical, and eclipsed by the complications of the malabsorption. In such patients, cavitary lymph nodes discovery by the radiologist who is totally aware of the relationship to the celiac disease will lead to the right diagnosis as well as obviate invasive methods to get the lymph node tissue.

 

The nodes drain areas that have branches of celiac trunk as follows – pancreas and spleen (through splenic artery), stomach (left gastric artery), liver (hepatic artery). They thus drain following nodes

 

  • Hepatic nodes
  • Gastric nodes
  • Pancreaticosplenic nodes.

 

Cavitating lymph node syndrome is the rare & poorly understood risk of the celiac disease. In clinical setting of the celiac disease, the patients with the cavitating lymph node typically present with the refractory symptoms of fatigue, diarrhea, and weight loss.

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