Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification

A decade ago celiac disease was considered extremely rare outside Europe and, therefore, was almost completely ignored by health care professionals.

Celiac disease is the most common genetically based food intolerance (1% prevalence among general population) (JAMA 2014, http://buff.ly/1cJWgFy).

In only 10 years, key milestones have moved celiac disease from obscurity into the popular spotlight worldwide.

Now we are observing another interesting phenomenon that is generating great confusion among health care professionals. The number of individuals embracing a gluten-free diet (GFD) appears much higher than the projected number of celiac disease patients, fueling a global market of gluten-free products approaching $2.5 billion (US) in global sales in 2010.

This trend is supported by the notion that, along with celiac disease, other conditions related to the ingestion of gluten have emerged as health care concerns.

This review summarized the current knowledge about the 3 main forms of gluten reactions:

- allergic (wheat allergy)
- autoimmune (celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and gluten ataxia)
- possibly immune-mediated (gluten sensitivity) ("non-celiac gluten sensitivity" or NCGS)

New nomenclature and classifications are proposed (see the figures below).

Key figures:

New nomenclature and classification of gluten-related disorders - http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/13/figure/F1

Algorithm for the differential diagnosis of gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy - http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/13/figure/F4

3 million Americans are living with celiac disease

Celiac disease, an immune system reaction to gluten in the diet, is four times as common today as it was 50 years ago. Lack of awareness of celiac could be contributing to a delay of up to 11 years in diagnosis of adults in North America (http://goo.gl/sy778).

This is an informative and beautifully designed video by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. It looks like an infographic made into video - have a look:

New classification is being proposed for gluten-related disorders: celiac disease; dermatitis herpetiformis; gluten ataxia; wheat allergy; gluten sensitivity. WSJ, 2012.

Recent studies support the existence of the new condition nonceliac gluten sensitivity which is defined as symptoms with negative celiac antibodies and biopsy (http://goo.gl/57IlB).


Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. Anna Sapone et al. BMC Medicine 2012, 10:13 doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-13.
Image source: Colon (anatomy), Wikipedia, public domain.
Disclaimer: I am an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at University of Chicago.
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity | BMJ http://bit.ly/SlOTNO

Comments from Twitter:

Karen Price @brookmanknight: reflects well what we see in clinical practice, though haven't seen or dx'd too much derm herpetiformis.

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