Can a SARS-CoV-2 Infection Trigger Celiac Disease?

June 24, 2021

A study published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice has hypothesized that genetically-predisposed patients could be more likely to develop celiac disease following a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

This hypothesis is based on several pathogenic mechanisms observed in patients following a COVID-19 infection, which could promote the onset of celiac disease. More specifically, a SARS-CoV-2 infection might damage the mucosal membrane, resulting in increased permeability of the intestinal barrier. A weakened intestinal barrier allows microbial components, including wheat protein, to pass into a layer of the epithelium where they can potentially bind with certain immune system cells to trigger an autoimmune response. If an individual is already genetically predisposed, some researchers hypothesize that damage to the intestinal barrier caused by COVID-19 could prove to be a risk factor for developing celiac disease. Further investigation is necessary to understand whether a COVID-19 infection triggers celiac disease.

This is not the first connection to be highlighted in the scientific literature on the development of an autoimmune disease after a COVID-19 infection. Recently, type 1 diabetes was also observed to be connected to SARS-CoV-2 infection, leading researchers to hypothesize that COVID-19 may be an additional risk factor for developing autoimmune conditions.