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Cause of Celiac Disease Found to be Mostly Genetic

Gut 2002;50:624-628

Celiac.com 05/02/2002 – Results of the first large population-based twin study of celiac disease were recently published in the April edition of the journal Gut. The study was conducted by Professor L Greco and colleagues at the UniversitĂ di Napoli Federico II, Dipartimento di Pediatria. The study compared identical twins (genetically identical) to fraternal twins (genetically not identical) who share only the same number of genes as non-twin siblings. This methodology allowed the researchers to determine what role a shared environment plays in the onset of celiac disease in comparison to a genetic role.

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The researchers matched the Italian Twin Registry with the membership lists of a patient support group for celiacs. Forty seven twin pairs were found and screened for antiendomysial (EMA) and antihuman-tissue transglutaminase (anti-tTG) antibodies. Identical twins were verified using DNA fingerprinting and fraternal twins were typed for HLA class II DRB1 and DQB1 molecules.

Their results indicate that 38% of the combined twin pairs showed signs of celiac disease, which breaks down to 75% of the identical twin pairs and 11% of the non-identical twin pairs. Additionally, females who had a twin with celiac disease were 30% more likely to develop it themselves, in comparison to an unaffected male twin. Further, the results of the study indicate that environmental factors have little or no effect on the acquisition of celiac disease, and that there is substantial evidence of a very strong genetic component that is only partially related to the HLA region. The researchers suggest that several genes work collectively to cause celiac disease, and a single missing or altered gene is probably not its cause.

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It took me 20 years or more Barry so I wouldn't claim any great insight on this I had a 'eureka' moment, up until then I was walking around with multiple symptoms and not connecting any dots whatsoever. It is very, very difficult to diagnose and that's something that's reflected in so many of the experiences detailed here. A food diary may help in your case. It helped me to connect the gaps between eating and onset. It could help you to track any gluten sources should you go gluten free. It is possible for your reactions to change over time. As to whether its celiac, that's something you could explore with your doctor, stay on gluten if you choose to go that way. best of luck! Matt

I took Zoloft once. Loved it until it triggered microscopic colitis (colonoscopy diagnosed it). Lexapro did the same. However, I have a family member who is fiagnosed celiac and tolerates Celexa well.

Thanks for the update and welcome to the club you never wanted to join! ?

Jmg, I am glad you were able to come to the realisation that the culprit was in fact gluten. For me its not so simple. IBS runs in the family, as do several food intolerances. Its just in the last while that I can finally reach the conclusion that for me its gluten. The fact that it is a delayed effect-several hours after, made it harder. Friday I had some KFC, felt great. Saturday evening felt sleepy, Sunday felt awful and my belly was huge. I think I have gone from mildly sensitive to full blown celiac over the course of five years-if that possible. Thanks for all your help.

I thought I'd take a moment to provide an update, given how much lurking I've done on these forums the last year. It took a long time, but I've since had another gastroenterologist visit, many months of eating tons of bread, and an endoscopy where they took several biopsies. I have to say, the endoscopy was a super quick and efficient experience. During the procedure they let me know that it looked somewhat suspicious, causing them to take many biopsies, and then did comprehensive blood work. About a month later, I received a call telling me that the TTG came back positive a second time, and that the biopsies were a mix of negative (normal) results and some that were positive (showing blunting of the villi). As a result, I've been given a celiac diagnosis. It's been about a month now that I've been eating gluten free. Not sure if I'm really feeling all that different yet. It's a bit twisted to say, but in some way I was hoping for this diagnosis ? thinking how nice it would be to have an explanation, a plan of action, and feeling better. It's certainly no small change to be totally gluten free, but I'm hopeful.