Coeliac disease is a genetic condition which can affect anybody, irrespective of age or gender; nevertheless there is a strong relationship between gender and people diagnosed with the disease, as women are twice as likely to have it. This autoimmune disease is a digestive condition caused by an adverse reaction to gluten in the gut. Substances with gluten are mistaken as a threat to the body, causing the body to attack them as it would a pathogen, leading to damage to the surface of the intestines affecting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. Refractory coeliac disease occurs when the patient still shows symptoms of the disease when following a strict gluten free diet; however, it only occurs in about 2-3% of patients.
Coeliac Disease has notoriously been identified as mainly affecting the western world, with around 40% of the western population possessing the similar gene mutations to HLA –DQ as sufferers of the disease. The damage caused to the lining of the small intestine by the disease is defined using the Marsh classification form 1, where the cells on the surface of the intestinal lining are being penetrated by lymphocytes, to 3C which denotes complete flattening of the villi on the surface of the small intestine. The Epiomic™ database sub-divides the patient population by the various stages of the Marsh classification in order to provide a deeper insight into this incurable disease.
People with coeliac disease are more likely to have other autoimmune conditions, such as type 1 diabetes and osteoporosis. It is important to be aware of this as coeliac treatment could be adversely affected by these conditions.
With an ever-growing population of diagnosed Coeliacs, it is imperative to appreciate the vast overlapping between age, gender, country and co-morbidities, with these autoimmune conditions, as exemplified by the Epiomic™ database.
Did you know ... A large part of the population will have silent Coeliac Disease showing no symptoms until exposed to stress.