How does coeliac disease develop?
That also genetic factors play a role is confirmed by the fact that there is a tenfold higher rate of coeliac disease with immediate relatives in comparison to the general population. However, the numerous genes, which regulate hereditary predisposition still have not all been researched yet. Important among these are some factors of the HLA system, a gene complex, whose job it is to recognise exogenous molecules. With most people affected by coeliac disease (at least 95%) a genetic disposition (HLA-DQ2 and DQ8) is established. The HLA-DQ2/DQ8 are necessary for the illness to develop, however, they are not solely responsible for it. In fact the same genetic factors have been noticed in a number of healthy people (20-30% of the general population). The evidence of HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 does not mean that coeliac disease will actually develop. However, the risk is clearly higher. In this connection it is important to have children tested regularly for coeliac antibodies. With infants, in general, it is important to pay attention to the breastfeeding duration and the introduction of gluten. A high dosage of gluten within the first year of life favours the development of coeliac disease, should there already be a genetic predisposition.
The only known exogenous factor which plays a role with coeliac disease is the presence of gluten in a person’s daily diet.