This is the second in a series of posts. You can read the other posts here:
As an autoimmune disease that targets the gut, celiac disease has three causes. According to Dr. Fasano, all three need to occur for a person to have the disease.
1. Environment – Celiac disease is the only autoimmune disease for which the environmental factor, gluten, is known. For this reason, studying celiac disease may bring answers that are helpful in treating other autoimmune diseases.
2. Genes – Hundreds of genes are involved in developing celiac disease. If you think of them all as being pieces to a puzzle, one of those pieces has been identified. In order to develop celiac disease, an individual must have DQ2 and/or DQ8. Having one or both of those genes does not mean an individual will develop celiac, but they do have one piece of the puzzle so it is possible. Not having one of those two genes, however, does mean that a person cannot develop celiac, because they are missing a piece of the puzzle.
3. Mucosal Barrier (or Leaky Gut) – For celiac disease (and other autoimmune diseases) a third cause seems to be that of a leaky gut. Having the genes and the environmental factor do not by themselves cause celiac. That is because gluten must pass through the intestinal wall in order for the genes to react.
Many traditional doctors do not believe that leaky gut is a real problem, while other non traditional doctors says it is at the heart of every problem. Dr. Fasano believes the answer is in the middle of those two extremes. Tomorrow’s post will cover leaky gut in more detail.