JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

[Celiac disease : Pathogenesis, clinics, epidemiology, diagnostics, therapy]

Detlef Schuppan
Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz 2016, 59 (7): 827-35
27273303
Celiac disease is induced by the consumption of gluten containing cereals (wheat, spelt, barley, rye). With a prevalence of ~ 1 %, it is the most common non-infectious chronic inflammatory intestinal disease worldwide. It manifests in all age groups, either classically with abdominal pain, diarrhoea and growth failure or weight loss, more commonly with indirect consequences of malabsorption, such as anaemia and osteoporosis, or with associated autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, autoimmune thyroiditis or dermatitis herpetiformis. The pathogenesis of celiac disease is well explored. Gluten, the cereal storage protein, is not completely digested and reaches the intestinal mucosa where it activates inflammatory T cells, which cause atrophy of the resorptive villi. This T‑cell activation requires a genetic predisposition (the molecules HLA-DQ2 or -DQ8 on antigen-presenting immune cells). Moreover, the enzyme tissue transglutaminase (TG2) which is released in the mucosa increases the immunogenicity of the gluten peptides by a deamidation reaction. The test for serum antibodies to the autoantigen TG2 is one of the best diagnostic markers in medicine, which in combination with endoscopically obtained biopsies, secures the diagnosis of celiac disease. Despite these tools celiac disease is severely underdiagnosed, with 80-90 % of those affected being undetected. The untreated condition can lead to grave complications. These include the consequences of malabsorption, cancers (especially intestinal T‑cell lymphoma), and likely also the promotion of autoimmune diseases. The therapy of celiac disease, a strict gluten-free diet, is difficult to maintain and not always effective. Alternative, supporting pharmacological therapies are urgently needed and are currently in development.

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