Three decades ago, celiac was mainly considered a children's disease. It is a disease that is characterized by chronic diarrhea and leads to malnutrition. The advancement of knowledge of immunology and discovery of antibodies against gluten (a protein found in wheat and barley) in the patients' blood, allowed a better study of the disease. In this way, it was determined that this disease has a variety of signs and manifestations and can be found in almost all age groups. It was also found that the incidence of the disease was higher than previously thought.
Given the genetic background of the disease and that the prevalence of the disease differs in different regions of the world, the firsts studies started nearly 20 years ago by the Digestive Diseases Research Institute to determine the frequency of the celiac disease in Iran and also in people with different symptoms. In these studies, the prevalence, disease manifestations, clinical signs and symptoms, and its treatment were investigated for the first time.
The research has been done as graduation theses of some of the internal medicine residents or fellowships of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Digestive Diseases Research Institute of Tehran University of Medical Sciences. So far, 20 scientific articles have been published exclusively on this topic.
Based on these studies, it was found that about 1 percent of Iranians have celiac disease , and many of these people have no symptoms, or have very few clinical symptoms.
Subsequent studies showed the association of celiac disease with other diseases including hepatic autoimmune diseases.