Celiac disease is an autoimmune enteropathy caused by gluten in genetically predisposed individuals. In celiac disease, adaptive and innate immune activation results in intestinal damage and a wide range of clinical manifestations. In the past, celiac disease was thought to result in signs and symptoms solely related to the gastrointestinal tract. Now, more than half of the adult population presents with extra-intestinal manifestations that can also be expected to improve on a gluten-free diet. For this reason, it is recommended that physicians have a low threshold of suspicion for celiac disease. Current knowledge of the immune pathogenesis of this autoimmune disease has served as a catalyst for the development of novel diagnostic tools and therapeutics. Over the years, highly sensitive and specific serological assays, in addition to genetic markers, have been found to target specific steps in the cascade pathway of celiac disease. Also the advent of the gluten challenge has enabled experts to design diagnostic algorithms and monitor clinical responses in clinical trials. The gluten challenge has provided substantial benefit in the advance of novel therapeutics as an adjuvant treatment to the gluten free diet. Generally, a strict gluten-free diet is highly burdensome to patients and can be limited in its efficacy. Alternative therapies-including gluten modification, modulation of intestinal permeability and immune response-could be central to the future treatment of celiac disease.
Keywords: autoimmune diseases; celiac disease; gluten-free diet.
© The Author(s) 2014. Published by Oxford University Press and the Digestive Science Publishing Co. Limited.