Recent advances in the clinical, epidemiological, genetic, and therapeutic aspects of celiac disease have made this condition a superb model of autoimmunity. This review will outline the most significant work that contributed to our current knowledge of the disease.
Celiac disease is not confined to the Caucasian population as previously believed; rather its prevalence is approximately 1% worldwide. In addition to the HLA genes, many other genes involved in innate and adaptive immunity, intestinal barrier regulation, and autoimmunity have been identified as integral genetic components of the disease. Based on this information and on a better understanding of celiac disease pathogenesis, novel therapies alternative to the gluten-free diet are currently in advanced phase of development.
The outcome of these new findings will most likely have a significant impact in clinical practice, including diagnosis and management of the disease. Furthermore, celiac disease can be used as a unique model to gain more insights on the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases.
aMucosal Biology Research Center and Center for Celiac Research, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
bUniversita' Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy
Correspondence to Alessio Fasano, MD, Mucosal Biology Research Center and Center for Celiac Research, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Health Science Facility II, Room S345, 20 Penn Street, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA Tel: +1 410 706 5501; fax: +1 410 706 5508; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org