Researchers have identified common genetic mutations between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, suggesting that the two inflammatory disorders may stem from a shared underlying mechanism.
The finding also suggests that the two diseases may be triggered by similar environmental factors.
The study, released early online by the New England Journal of Medicine, was co-sponsored by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).
Both type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are autoimmune disorders, meaning they both result when the body mistakenly turns on itself. In type 1 diabetes, the body attacks the pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. In celiac disease, it's the small intestine that is damaged.
Many people who have type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease, and vice versa. According to the study authors, the small intestine and pancreas share some characteristics. Seven "loci," or regions of a chromosome, were shared in people with both diseases. These regions may be involved in regulating the processes that cause the body's immune system to go awry.
Bonnie - this is precisely the reason why diagnosing celiac early is crucial. The current average for diagnosis is ten years, which does not cut it.