Celiac disease is a digestive disorder that’s triggered by eating foods containing gluten—a protein common in foods such as bread, pasta, cookies, and cakes. When a person with celiac disease eats or drinks anything with gluten, the body’s immune system attacks the inside of the small intestine. The damage from this attack keeps the body from absorbing needed nutrients. If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to malnutrition, anemia, weakened bones, and other problems.
Researchers don’t know exactly what triggers celiac disease. Certain genes and other factors, such as things in the environment, can lead to celiac disease. Viral infections have been suggested as a possible trigger.
A team led by Dr. Bana Jabri at the University of Chicago and Dr. Terence S. Dermody at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine investigated whether a common but harmless type of virus that people are frequently exposed to, called reoviruses, can prompt sensitivity to dietary proteins. The study was supported by NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), among others. Results were published in Science on April 7, 2017. Continue reading