Introduction: Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet, and there is an increased desire for alternative therapies. In vitro and in vivo models of celiac disease have been generated in order to better understand the pathogenesis of celiac disease, and this review will discuss these models as well as the testing of alternative therapies using these models.
Areas covered: The research discussed describes the different in vitro and in vivo models of celiac disease that currently exist and how they have contributed to our understanding of how gluten can stimulate both innate and adaptive immune responses in celiac patients. We also provide a summary on the alternative therapies that have been tested with these models and discuss whether subsequent clinical trials were done based on these tests done with these models of celiac disease.
Expert opinion: Only a few of the alternative therapies that have been tested with animal models have gone on to clinical trials; however, those that did go on to clinical trial have provided promising results from a safety standpoint. Further trials are required to determine if some of these therapies may serve as an effective adjunct to a gluten-free diet to alleviate the adverse affects associated with accidental gluten exposure. A "magic-bullet" approach may not be the answer to celiac disease, but possibly a future cocktail of these different therapeutics may allow celiac patients to consume an unrestricted diet.