Is celiac disease an autoimmune disorder?

Curr Opin Immunol. 2005 Dec;17(6):595-600. doi: 10.1016/j.coi.2005.09.015. Epub 2005 Oct 7.


Celiac disease, which results from an immune reaction to ingested cereal gluten proteins, has several autoimmune features. In particular, celiac disease patients produce highly disease specific IgA and IgG autoantibodies to tissue transglutaminase when they are on a gluten-containing diet, and they have small intestinal intraepithelial lymphocytes which can mediate direct cytotoxicity of enterocytes expressing MIC molecules in an antigen non-specific manner. Similar to typical autoimmune disorders, celiac disease has a multifactorial aetiology with complex genetics, and several autoimmune diseases are commonly presented by patients with celiac disease. Much has been learned about the immunology of celiac disease in recent years, and there is overwhelming evidence that the immune response to gluten is central to the pathogenesis. In light of this, the many autoimmune phenomena associated with celiac disease are thought-provoking, and they challenge us to rethink the boundaries between autoimmunity and immunopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / biosynthesis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / genetics
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / complications
  • Celiac Disease / genetics
  • Celiac Disease / immunology*
  • Glutens / immunology
  • Humans
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Glutens