Celiac disease Information

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people of all ages from middle infancy onward. Symptoms include chronic diarrhoea, failure to thrive , and fatigue, but these may be absent, and symptoms in other organ systems have been described. A growing portion of diagnoses are being made in asymptomatic persons as a result of increased screening. Coeliac disease is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a prolamin found in wheat, and similar proteins found in the crops of the tribe Triticeae . Upon exposure to gliadin, and certain other prolamins, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase modifies the protein, and the immune system cross-reacts with the small-bowel tissue, causing an inflammatory reaction. That leads to a truncating of the villi lining the small intestine . This interferes with the absorption of nutrients, because the intestinal villi are responsible for absorption. The only known effective treatment is a lifelong gluten-free diet. While the disease is caused by a reaction to wheat proteins, it is not the same as wheat allergy.

This condition has several other names, including: cœliac disease , celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, endemic sprue, gluten enteropathy or gluten-sensitive enteropathy, and gluten intolerance. The term coeliac derives from the Greek κοιλιακός , and was introduced in the 19th century in a translation of what is generally regarded as an ancient Greek description of the disease by Aretaeus of Cappadocia.

Severe coeliac disease leads to the characteristic symptoms of pale, loose and greasy stool , weight loss or failure to gain weight . People with milder coeliac disease may have symptoms that are much more subtle and occur in other organs rather than the bowel itself. Finally, it is possible to have coeliac disease without any symptoms whatsoever. Many adults with subtle disease only have fatigue or anaemia.

Wikipedia, Celiac disease, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celiac_disease (as of Apr 1, 2010)

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