A History of Celiac Disease

Víctor Manuel García Nieto


Celiac disease is known since ancient times. This chapter describes Aretaeus of Cappadocia’s contribution, approximately 2,000 years ago, up until recent times when Marcelo Royer in Buenos Aires and Margot Shiner in London each independently designed a technique for peroral duodenal biopsy under fluoroscopic control. Over the centuries, doctors tried to treat this disease using different diets since the exact pathogenesis of CD was not clear. Special attention is given to the early history of celiac disease in Spain, highlighting the work of Santiago Cavengt and later writings by other Spanish doctors. The elucidation of the cause of celiac disease is due to Willem Karel Dicke. He published his first findings in 1941 in a Dutch Journal in an age when medical literature was based on the empirical knowledge that the diets by proposed by Fanconi and Haas were best for the treatment of the disease. The introduction of intestinal biopsy was the key in confirming the diagnosis of celiac disease since it revealed the characteristic flattening of the mucosa exposed to gluten and the response to a gluten-free diet. Afterwards came new, great advances in the knowledge of the pathophysiological mechanisms of the disease. But that is another history.

Palabras clave

celiac, history

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