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, 73 (7), 1359-1368

Gluten Sensitivities and the Allergist: Threshing the Grain From the Husks


Gluten Sensitivities and the Allergist: Threshing the Grain From the Husks

J G Burkhardt et al. Allergy.


"Gluten sensitivity" has become commonplace among the public. Wheat allergy (WA) and celiac disease (CD) are well-defined entities, but are becoming a fraction of individuals following a gluten-free diet (GFD). Wheat allergy has a prevalence of <0.5%. Wheat, specifically its omega-5 gliadin fraction, is the most common allergen implicated in food-dependent, exercise-induced anaphylaxis. CD is a non-IgE hypersensitivity to certain cereal proteins: gluten in wheat, secalin in rye, hordein in barley, and to a lesser extent avenin in oat. It is a rare disease, with an estimated prevalence that varied widely geographically, being higher in Northern Europe and the African Saharawi region than in South-East Asia. In addition to suggestive symptoms, serologic testing has high diagnostic reliability and biopsy is a confirmatory procedure. Patients with CD have extra-intestinal autoimmune comorbid conditions more frequently than expected. A third entity is nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which has been created because of the increasing number of subjects who claim a better quality of life or improvement of their variety of symptoms on switching to a GFD. The phenomenon is being fueled by the media and exploited by the industry. The lack of a specific objective test has been raising substantial controversy about this entity. Allergists and gastroenterologists need to pay attention to the multitudes of individuals who elect to follow a GFD. Many such subjects might have WA, CD, or another illness. Providing them with appropriate evaluation and specific management would be of great advantages, medically and economically.

Keywords: celiac disease; gluten sensitivity; gluten-free diet; nonceliac gluten sensitivity; wheat allergy.

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