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Minerva Pediatrica 2014 October;66(5):501-16


language: English

Treatment of celiac disease: from gluten free diet to novel therapies

Francavilla R. 1, Cristofori F. 2, Stella M. 1, Borrelli G. 1, Naspi G. 3, Castellaneta S. 4

1 Interdisciplinary Department of Medicine‑Pediatric Section, University of Bari, Bari, Italy; 2 Department of Gastroenterology, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Institute of Child Health, London, UK; 3 Department of Specialistic, Odontostomatological Clinical Sciences, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy; 4 Department of Pediatrics, San Paolo Hospital, Bari, Italy


Gluten-free diet (GFD) is the cornerstone treatment for celiac disease (CD). This diet excludes the protein gluten a protein forum in in grains such as wheat, barley, rye and triticale. Gluten causes small intestines inflammation in patients with CD and eating a GFD helps these patients in controlling signs and symptoms and prevent complications. Following a GFD may be frustrating, however, it is important to know that plenty of foods are naturally gluten-free and nowadays is relatively easy to find substitutes for gluten-containing foods. Certain grains, such as oats, are generally safe but can be contaminated with wheat during growing and processing stages of production. For this reason, it is generally recommended avoiding oats unless they are specifically labelled gluten-free. Other products that may contain gluten include food additives, such as malt flavouring, modified food starch and some supplement and/or vitamins that use gluten as a binding agent. Cross-contamination occurs when gluten-free foods come into contact with foods that contain gluten. It can happen during the manufacturing process or if the same equipment is used to make a variety of products. Cross-contamination can also occur at home if foods are prepared on common surfaces or with utensils that have not been cleaned after being used to prepare gluten-containing foods (using a toaster for gluten-free and regular bread). Although safe and effective, the GFD is not ideal: it is expensive, of limited nutritional value, and not readily available in many countries. Consequently, a need exists for novel, non-dietary therapies for celiac disease. Advances in understanding the immunopathogenesis of CD have suggested several types of therapeutic strategies alternative to the GFD. Some of these strategies attempt to decrease the immunogenicity of gluten-containing grains by manipulating the grain itself or by using oral enzymes to break down immunogenic peptides that normally remain intact during digestion. Other strategies focus on preventing the absorption of these peptides, preventing tissue transglutaminase from rendering gluten peptides more immunogenic, or inhibiting their binding to CD-specific antigen-presenting molecules. Strategies that limit T cell migration to the small intestine or that re-establish mucosal homeostasis and tolerance to gluten antigens are also being explored.

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