An autoimmune genetic disorder with an unknown pattern of inheritance that primarily affects the digestive tract. It is caused by intolerance to dietary gluten. Consumption of gluten protein triggers an immune response which damages small intestinal villi and prevents adequate absorption of nutrients. Clinical signs include abdominal cramping, diarrhea or constipation and weight loss. If untreated, the clinical course may progress to malnutrition, anemia, osteoporosis and an increased risk of intestinal malignancies. However, the prognosis is favorable with successful avoidance of gluten in the diet.
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