Coeliac Disease Provides Clues to Solving Autoimmunity

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Comment: The epidemiology of coeliac disease that once was thought to be in the rage of 1 in 10,000 is now known to be in the neighbourhood of 1 in 133, although not all individuals with the disease face the same set of symptoms that makes coeliac and other food-related conditions so dangerous and widespread.Dr. Alessio Fasano, Medical Director with the Center for Coeliac Research at the University of Maryland Medical Center, has attributed gluten intolerance to classic gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea, bloating, and indigestion and leading to disruptions in nutrient absorption. For example, failure to properly absorb iron may lead to anaemia, whereas failure to absorb folate may lead to a variety of neurological conditions.

Malabsorption of specific nutrients may lead to such diverse conditions as osteoporosis, joint pain, chronic fatigue, skin lesions (eczema, psoriasis), epilepsy, dementia, schizophrenia, depression, and seizures. In addition to the above conditions, the following diseases or conditions are considered autoimmune in nature: diabetes, obesity, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, acute ischemic heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.

“A growing body of evidence suggests that virtually the same trio of factors underpins most, and perhaps all, autoimmune diseases: an environmental substance that is presented to the body, a genetically based tendency of the immune system to overreact to the substance, and an unusually permeable gut,” said Dr. Fasano.

Fasano, Alessio (2009, July 27). Coeliac Disease Insights: Clues to Solving Autoimmunity. Scientific American, Retrieved on August 11, 2009 View Article

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