New Classification System for Gluten-Related Disorders

Even though it seems like there are so many unanswered question out there about celiac disease, there's hope on the horizon that someday in the not too distant future we'll understand the root causes behind this autoimmune disease, or should I say "spectrum of a disease."

Just this morning I woke up to more good news in the field of celiac research as the Wall Street Journal covered the release of a new consensus paper published in the journal BMC Medicine that seeks to offer a new classification system for gluten-related disorders.

The paper was authored by 15 celiac disease experts from around the world (including Dr. Alessio Fasano from the Center for Celiac Research and Dr. Peter Green from the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University) and explains the clinical differences between celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and wheat allergies. The researchers broke the findings down as follows:

  • Celiac Disease patients experience an autoimmune response to gluten where the body mistakenly attacks itself. When eating gluten, patients in this group will develop antibodies that can be measured by a blood test and/or damage to the villi of the small intestine, which can be confirmed by a biopsy. There are more than 300 symptoms linked to celiac disease that can affect any system of the body.
  • Wheat Allergy patients will experience a classic allergy response that may affect the skin, gastrointestinal tract or respiratory tract when they ingest gluten. Skin prick tests are considered the first line of testing for a wheat allergy. In these patients, a reaction will occur minutes to hours after ingestion of gluten.
  • Gluten Sensitivity patients are sort of in a league of their own. This group of patients experiences symptoms similar to those of celiac disease patients when they eat gluten, yet there is no measureable reaction. This group of patients does not develop antibodies to gluten, nor do they exhibit signs of intestinal damage. The only method to diagnose a gluten sensitivity is for a patient to use an elimination diet to determine if his or her symptoms subside when gluten is not being consumed.
You can view the abstract and full study here:

Abstract: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/13/abstract

Full PDF: http://www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1741-7015-10-13.pdf

A huge thank you to the team of researchers who worked on this consensus paper. It's wonderful to know that we're getting closer to understanding how gluten affects our bodies and how we can prevent long-term complications.





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