Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition where those inflicted suffer symptoms that can range from drowsiness to sever gastrointestinal pain, malabsorption and diarrhea. These symptoms are due to the immune response to gluten. Gluten is a protein present in wheat, barley, rye and other gains. This protein is what notably gives dough its “stickiness”. When eaten by someone with the condition however, the body’s immune system views it as a threat, similar to the effects of an allergy.
The cause of this disease was always viewed as genetic, however this article asserts that a virus is able tigger the same response. The genetic cause is indicated by two genetic features, and while many people express one or both, only 1% of the population have been diagnosed with Celiac disease. With the virus as the cause, the immune system is triggered. The virus acts to trick the immune system to view gluten as harmful. The ingestion of gluten would “cause the immune system to react to gluten as if it was a dangerous pathogen instead of a harmless food protein”. This reaction damages the lining of the stomach as well as the intestines. This is what causes the majority of symptoms. While the virus itself is common and usually harmless, infection of this reovirus is suspected to be a probable cause.
While this disease affects many, there is still not much known about the causes of Celiacs. Although there are genetic tests, they are not 100% accurate. Which is the reason diagnosing this condition can be difficult. Testing for the genetic markers, blood work, endoscopy, and well other tests do not always give a complete answer. Usually a change in diet will be put into affect as a test as well, this usually will give the best results. While the ultimate causes are still not completely known, whether it be genetic, environmental, or viral, it is important that this research continues.
Posted by Logan Lassin (b)