(HealthDay)—For patients with suspected nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), overall symptom severity increases with intake of small amounts of gluten, according to a study published in the September issue of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Antonio Di Sabatino, M.D., from the University of Pavia in Italy, and colleagues conducted a to determine the effects of administration of low doses of gluten to subjects with suspected NCGS. Sixty-one adults without celiac disease or a wheat allergy who believed ingestion of foods containing gluten were the cause of their intestinal and extraintestinal symptoms were enrolled. Participants were randomized to receive 4.375 g/day of gluten or control (rice starch) for one week. Participants crossed over to the other group after a one-week gluten-free diet. Fifty-nine patients completed the trial.

The researchers found that, compared with placebo, intake of gluten significantly increased overall symptoms (P = 0.034). When patients received gluten versus placebo they had significantly more severe intestinal symptoms of abdominal bloating and pain (P = 0.040 and 0.047, respectively) and extraintestinal symptoms of foggy mind, depression, and aphthous stomatitis (P = 0.019, 0.020, and 0.025, respectively).

"In a cross-over trial of subjects with suspected NCGS, the severity of overall increased significantly during one week of intake of small amounts of , compared with placebo," the authors write.