What is Celiac Disease?

Written & Researched by Riya Nalla

Autoimmune Diseases and Enterocytes in Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is a type of autoimmune disease, “a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body” (Healthline). Just like how lymphocytes (cells that are part of the immune system) attack viruses, in this case, the immune system attacks your own functioning body cells, causing damage to them. Celiac Disease has to do with a negative response to gluten in the body because the immune system cells start attacking enterocytes, where gluten fragments build up in the small intestine. These gluten fragments are not digested properly and continue to build up (Beyond Celiac). “In celiac disease, the immune response to gluten creates toxins that destroy the villi. Villi are tiny finger-like protrusions inside the small intestines. When the villi become damaged, the body is unable to absorb nutrients from food” (Healthline).

Diagnosis of Celiac Disease

In order to figure out if one has Celiac Disease, doctors do tests to see if the person has high amounts of antibodies such as antiendomysium (EMA), which is a characteristic of Celiac Disease in the body (Healthline). If results come out positive, doctors will often do an endoscopy. They insert a tube which has a tiny camera to observe the small intestine and destroyed villi. They can also do this by asking one to swallow a pill that takes photos of the inside of the body and the small intestine (Mayo Clinic). As said earlier, Celiac Disease is when the villi are damaged, causing it to be difficult to get necessary nutrients, so it is important to detect this in the body and figure out what is going on by using these tests.


Since Celiac disease hurts the small intestine, it often causes various symptoms such as bloating, stomach pain, rashes, and nausea (Mayo Clinic). Long-term effects include iron deficiency, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and disturbance to fertility (Celiac Disease Foundation).


The most common treatment for Celiac Disease is a gluten-free diet so that people with Celiac disease do not get damage to their body and further symptoms that affect their health. Common foods that they have to avoid that include gluten are wheat flour, breads, cereals, pastas, and grains. Quinoa, oats, corn, and brown rice are a few foods people with Celiac disease can include in their diets. Another treatment for Celiac Disease is taking medication that can help prevent the effects of eating gluten on the body. Since common symptoms of Celiac disease are deficiencies of vitamins and minerals, people can take supplements like with Zinc, Iron, or Vitamin D (Mayo Clinic).

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