What is Celiac Disease?

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Celiac disease is a genetically determined autoimmune disease characterized by mucosal inflammation caused by an intolerance to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley (Green et al.. 2007). The disease has a classical association with gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain and constipation and it is said to affect approximately one percent of the population (Miśkiewicz et al. 2012). Frequently the disease is accompanied by weight loss, anemia, weakness, and bone disease. Celiac disease has also been associated with reproductive dysfunction in women, such as recurrent miscarriages, alternations in the menstrual cycle, and infertility (Sóñora et al. 2011).
Reproductive dysfunction is when there is an abnormality in the reproductive organs causing one to have difficulties reproducing. In general reproductive dysfunction is said to affect men and women equally. Women that suffer from reproductive dysfunction tend to have complications in conception and pregnancy.
The increased prevalence of celiac disease in women who suffer from reproductive dysfunction has been studied. Unexplained infertility in women who suffer from celiac disease has been described since the 1970’s (Pellicano et al. 2007). Women that suffer from celiac disease have an unexplained infertility rate that is 2.5-3.5% higher than normal women (Pellicano et al. 2007). Women who suffer from celiac, whether treated or not, tend to have recurrent miscarriages and infertility (Ana Paula de Souza Machado et al. 2013). Low birth weights and a shorter duration of breast feeding have also been seen in women who suffer from celiac disease (Green et al. 2003). The link between celiac disease and reproductive dysfunction in women has been studied, but there is no known mechanism for this association.
Researchers have been trying to understand the mechanism connecting celiac disease and reproductive dysfunction for many years. Studies have been conducted on the content of celiac patients’ sera, tissue transglutaminase (tTG) activity, and genotype. When studying celiac patients’ plasma, also known as serology, elevated amounts of IgA-specific antibodies(define) were seen (Sóñora et al. 2011). These antibodies react with tTG(define) and, even though they are mainly localized in the jejunum, but can also be found in the liver, muscle, brain, and heart. Antibodies that are tTG-specific can also affect the activity of enzymes, the permeability of endothelial cells, the development of new blood vessels, cell differentiation, and proliferation of cells.
Tissue transglutaminase is a multifunctional enzyme that is expressed in most tissues and in every cellular compartment.

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