HAVE YOU HAD YOUR PNEUMOCOCCAL VACCINE?
If you have coeliac disease, you might be at risk of reduced spleen function and serious infection. Research now points to the vaccine that will help.
Research supported by Coeliac Australia has found that individuals with coeliac disease will be better protected against serious infection if vaccinated against pneumococcus.
The spleen plays an important role in the production of antibodies and immune function. Impaired spleen function, called hyposplenism, may be more common in individuals diagnosed with coeliac disease. This can lead to increased risk of serious infections, particularly from bacteria such as Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and can cause life-threatening pneumonia and sepsis.
Some guidelines recommend people with coeliac disease are vaccinated against pneumococcus to manage this associated condition, although this is not widely practised.
The study, led by Associate Professor Jason Tye-Din and the Coeliac Research Program team at WEHI and the Royal Melbourne Hospital, was the first to systematically study spleen function in Australians with coeliac disease.
“We showed more than a third of adults, despite having well-treated coeliac disease, had evidence of suboptimal B cell function meaning their capacity to make antibodies to the pneumococcus bacteria was reduced,” says Dr Tye-Din.
Importantly, the study showed that vaccination against pneumococcus is safe and effective in mounting protective antibody responses in coeliac disease. “This finding reinforces the importance of pneumococcal vaccination in everybody with coeliac disease,” says Tye-Din.
“We are grateful for Coeliac Australia’s support that enabled this important study, and our next steps are to publish these findings and incorporate our recommendations into clinical practice guidelines to help reduce complications from coeliac disease.”
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