Purpose of review: Celiac disease is an immune-mediated disorder clinically characterized by a multitude of symptoms and complications. The comorbidity between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders has been clearly established.
Recent findings: Two main theories have been postulated to explain this comorbidity: (1) linkage disequilibrium between the genes responsible for celiac disease and those responsible for the coexpressed autoimmune diseases or (2) untreated celiac disease leading to the onset of other autoimmune diseases. This article reviews the current literature supporting either theory and places the current knowledge in the field within the context of the most recent data on the pathogenesis of celiac disease.
Summary: The current literature did not clearly establish which of the two theories explain the comorbidity between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders. There is, however, growing evidence that the loss of the intestinal barrier function typical of celiac disease could be responsible of the onset of other autoimmune disease. This concept implies that the autoimmune response can be theoretically stopped and perhaps reversed if the interplay between autoimmune predisposing genes and trigger(s) is prevented or eliminated by a prompt diagnosis and treatment.