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Celiac Sprue (cont.)

Celiac Disease Causes

Celiac disease results from a combination of immunological responses to an environmental factor (gluten) and genetic factors. People need both a genetic predisposition and the exposure to gluten in order to develop celiac disease.

Immune mechanisms

  • The interaction of gliadin (a specific gluten present in certain grain products) with the lining of the small intestine is critical in the development of celiac disease. When people with celiac disease eat foods containing gluten, gliadin is identified by the immune system as a threat. As a result, the body produces antibodies called antigliadin antibodies. Antigliadin antibodies are directed against gliadin.
  • Two additional antibodies have been identified in the bloodstream of people with celiac disease. In contrast to antigliadin antibodies, these antibodies target the person's own body and are referred to as autoantibodies (antibodies against our own cells and organs). The first antibody targets endomysium, a small intestinal smooth muscle component. The second antibody targets an enzyme called tissue transglutaminase. The presence of these autoantibodies suggests that autoimmunity plays a role in the disease process of celiac disease.
  • Genetic factors: Genes play an important role in celiac disease. Celiac disease occurs much more frequently in relatives of persons with celiac disease than in the general population.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/21/2014
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