Document Type



Celiac disease (CD) is a multifactorial chronic inflammatory condition that results in injury of the mucosal lining of the small intestine upon ingestion of wheat gluten and related proteins from barley and rye. Although the exact mechanisms leading to CD are not fully understood, the genetic basis of CD has been relatively well characterized. In this review we briefly review the history of discovery, clinical presentation, pathophysiology, and current understanding of the genetics underlying CD risk. Then, we discuss what is known about the current distribution and evolutionary history of genes underlying CD risk in light of other evolutionary models of disease. Specifically, we conclude that the set of loci underlying CD risk did not cohesively evolve as a response to a single past selection event such as the development of agriculture. Rather, deterministic and stochastic evolutionary processes have both contributed to the present distribution of variation in CD risk loci. Selection has shaped some components of this network, but this selection appears to have occurred at different points in the past. Other parts of the CD risk network have likely arisen due to stochastic processes such as genetic drift.