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President John F Kennedy’s medical history: coeliac disease and autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 2
  1. Donatella Macchia1,
  2. Donatella Lippi2,
  3. Raffaella Bianucci3,
  4. Simon Donell4
  1. 1Allergology and Clinical Immunology Unit, San Giovanni di Dio Hospital, Firenze, Italy
  2. 2Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  3. 3Legal Medicine Section, Department of Public Health and Paediatric Sciences, University of Turin, Torino, Italy
  4. 4Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Simon Donell, Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK; S.Donell{at}


President John F. Kennedy (JFK) had a complex medical history that is now thought to be an autoimmune polyglandular syndrome type 2 with Addison’s disease and hypothyroidism. He also had gastrointestinal symptoms from adolescence, which now fit well with coeliac disease. In addition, he had a chronic back problem, which contributed to a chronic pain syndrome. This review looks at JFK’s various diseases and focusses on the history of coeliac disease, as well as its presentation. JFK’s Irish ancestry supports the hypothesis of a coeliac disease started early in his youth.

  • medical history
  • immunology
  • coeliac disease
  • adrenal disorders
  • thyroid disease

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  • Correction notice This article has been corrected since it appeared Online First. Table 1, ††† footnote has been clarified.

  • Contributors DL and DM planned the study; All authors wrote the manuscript; SD polished the manuscript; SD submitted the manuscript and is responsible for the overall content as guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.