Prof. Marios Hadjivassiliou, MD
Gluten-Related Disorders: Time to Move from Gut to Brain
Dr. Marios Hadjivassiliou is a Professor of Neurology at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and an Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, in the United Kingdom.
Dr. Hadjivassiliou has conducted extensive research into gluten ataxia, having first described the condition in the 1990s after seeing a number of patients with unexplained balance and coordination problems. He began systematically testing these patients for gluten sensitivity using antigliadin antibodies and found a very high prevalence of antibodies in patients with ataxia, suggestive of a heightened immune response to gluten but not necessarily to a diagnosis of celiac disease.
Dr. Hadjivassiliou has described gluten ataxia as an immune-mediated disease triggered by the ingestion of gluten in genetically susceptible individuals. Typical symptoms include difficulty walking or walking with a wide gait, frequent falls, difficulty judging distances or position, visual disturbances and tremor. Gluten ataxia can affect fingers, hands, arms, legs, speech and even eye movements.
In 1996 Dr. Hadjivassiliou established the Sheffield Ataxia Clinic, to identify the causes of ataxias and to provide ongoing care for patients with progressive ataxias, and the clinic currently cares for over a thousand patients from the UK and overseas. The clinic’s areas of expertise include gluten ataxia and other immune-mediated ataxias, and investigating the causes of so-called “idiopathic” (where the cause isn’t known) sporadic ataxias. The SAC has works closely with the other three ataxia centers in the UK; London, Oxford and Newcastle. The clinic utilizes all the latest diagnostic tests including genetic tests and state of the art imaging modalities, including MR spectroscopy, volumetric analyses of the cerebellum and voxel based morphometry. In 2007 the SAC was accredited by Ataxia UK as a Center of Excellence.
In 2013 Dr. Hadjivassiliou and Professor Dave Sanders, also of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, established the groundbreaking Sheffield Institute of Gluten-Related Disorders (SIGReD), the world’s first clinic to specialize in the neurological manifestations of gluten-related disorders. The Institute will bring together some of the world’s leading authorities on gluten-related disorders to share knowledge and drive research, with the aim of improving diagnosis and care for patients.