Maureen M. Leonard, MD, MMSc; Anna Sapone, MD, PhD; Carlo Catassi, MD, MPH; Alessio Fasano, MD
The prevalence of gluten-related disorders is rising, and increasing numbers of individuals are empirically trying a gluten-free diet for a variety of signs and symptoms. This review aims to present current evidence regarding screening, diagnosis, and treatment for celiac disease and nonceliac gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease is a gluten-induced immune-mediated enteropathy characterized by a specific genetic genotype (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 genes) and autoantibodies (antitissue transglutaminase and antiendomysial). Although the inflammatory process specifically targets the intestinal mucosa, patients may present with gastrointestinal signs or symptoms, extraintestinal signs or symptoms, or both, suggesting that celiac disease is a systemic disease. Nonceliac gluten sensitivity is diagnosed in individuals who do not have celiac disease or wheat allergy but who have intestinal symptoms, extraintestinal symptoms, or both, related to ingestion of gluten-containing grains, with symptomatic improvement on their withdrawal. The clinical variability and the lack of validated biomarkers for nonceliac gluten sensitivity make establishing the prevalence, reaching a diagnosis, and further study of this condition difficult. Nevertheless, it is possible to differentiate specific gluten-related disorders from other conditions, based on currently available investigations and algorithms. Clinicians cannot distinguish between celiac disease and nonceliac gluten sensitivity by symptoms, as they are similar in both. Therefore, screening for celiac disease must occur before a gluten-free diet is implemented, since once a patient initiates a gluten-free diet, testing for celiac disease is no longer accurate.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Celiac disease and non celiac gluten sensitivity are common. Although both conditions are treated with a gluten-free diet, distinguishing between celiac disease and nonceliac gluten sensitivity is important for long-term therapy. Patients with celiac disease should be followed up closely for dietary adherence, nutritional deficiencies, and the development of possible comorbidities.