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Celiac Disease Link to Autoimmune Disease



Celiac.com 06/28/2010 - Studies on the genetic links to celiac disease are leading to more research which may lead to new and more effective ways to treat the disease, an exciting  prospect for celiacs who may want to enjoy some gluten now and then.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, the source of this being gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, affecting about 1% of the population and 300 million Americans. The disease attacks the villi,the finger-like structure which line the small intestine, leading to stomach troubles and malabsorption of nutrients. Left untreated, it can cause severe health conditions and complications such as anemia, osteoporosis, miscarriage, and even cancer.

David van Heel, a gastrointestinal genetics professor at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, headed a group of researchers from around the world who studied the genetic maps of more than 9,400 celiacs.

British researchers have found what they term “substantial” evidence that the genes which are connected with celiac disease are also linked to other autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis. As a result, scientists are able to understand how the genetic risk factors for the disease operate—by changing the number of immune system genes that cells make. Furthermore, it is now understood that there are “hundreds” of genetic risk factors, which means that scientists should be able to “have a good guess at nearly half of the genetic risk at present," van Heel wrote in the Nature Genetics journal in his published study.

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Why is that only 3% of celiac Americans have been properly diagnosed? It’s likely that they or their doctors haven’t even heard of the disease. Research on celiac disease in the U.S. depends completely on the generosity of benefactors for its funding. Without charitable donations, there would be no way to continue this research and the efforts to raise awareness. Out of the estimated fifty autoimmune diseases that have been discovered by doctors, it is the only one for which research isn’t supported by the U.S. government.

I spent years running in circles with doctors who had no clue as to the cause of my painful symptoms, which finally drove me to research my symptoms on my own. I’m grateful lto have been properly diagnosed, but managing the gluten-free diet can be a challenge. The prospect of a pill to offset genetic factors will appeal to many celiacs like myself. Although the treatment for celiac disease is simple, it calls for a lot of work and can be disheartening at times, requiring a total lifestyle change and a lot of home cooking.

With this genetic research in the area of celiac disease, we can look forward to more research, more awareness, and perhaps another treatment option. Meanwhile, it’s  best to keep doing our parts to raise awareness and funds for research.

Source: Reuters

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1 Response:

 
Tom Sweeney
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said this on
23 Dec 2013 3:29:45 AM PDT
I am not a doctor, but I am 70 years old and just recently I discovered that gluten has caused
me many of health problems over the years. I was diagnosed at age 66 with (AS) Ankylosing Spondylitis after I had a flare up and was very sick. I then began to read about my AS condition
and realized I had symptoms of AS around my early twenties. I then found my brothers and sisters had autoimmune diseases also. After reading about gluten I came to the conclusion that there is a link between autoimmune diseases and gluten. It seems to me that gluten starts the process of our immune system going haywire and our immune system causes more fighting due to gluten which now causes other autoimmune diseases. Why I don't know? But I would like to help if I can be of any assistance as a gluten suffer.




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Yes you are correct. Interestingly my genes in the US are thought to be more associated with RA. Which is something they thought I had prediagnosis. In the Middle and far East they are more likely to be associated with celiac and they are rare genes in Caucasians which I am according to my parent...

It seems like you really need a concrete or near concrete answer so I would say maybe you ought to get the gene testing. Then you can decide on the gluten challenge. Thanks! I am convinced our dogs are there waiting for us. Meanwhile they are playing, running, laughing, barking & chas...

I can't help thinking that all of this would be so much easier if the doctor I went to 10 years ago would have done testing for celiac, rather than tell me I probably should avoid gluten. He was looking to sell allergy shots and hormone treatment, he had nothing to gain from me being diagnosed ce...

Most (90%-95%) patients with celiac disease have 1 or 2 copies of HLA-DQ2 haplotype (see below), while the remainder have HLA-DQ8 haplotype. Rare exceptions to these associations have been occasionally seen. In 1 study of celiac disease, only 0.7% of patients with celiac disease lacked the HLA al...

This is not quite as cut & dried as it sounds. Although rare, there are diagnosed celiacs who do not have either of those genes. Ravenwoodglass, who posted above, is one of those people. I think she has double DQ9 genes? Am I right Raven? My point is, that getting the gene testing is not an...