What is Liver Disease?
The term liver disease applies to many diseases and disorders that cause the liver to function improperly or stop functioning. The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in the body. It stores vitamins, sugars, fats, and other nutrients from the food. It builds chemicals that the body needs to stay healthy, breaks down harmful substances like alcohol and other toxic chemicals, and removes waste products from the blood.
Abnormal results of liver function tests often suggest liver disease. There are many different types of liver disease that may be connected to celiac disease, including:
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Autoimmune (sclerosing) cholangitis
- Primary sclerosing cholangitis
What is the connection between liver disease and celiac disease?
- There is growing evidence that many liver injuries in children and adults may be related to celiac disease, though the reason liver damage is present in celiac disease patients is poorly understood.
- The different types of liver disease described may represent a spectrum of the same disorder where individual factors, such as genetic predisposition, and early exposure and duration of exposure to gluten, may influence the reversibility of liver damage.
- According to Dr. Umberto Volta's 2009 article, Pathogenesis and Clinical Significance of Liver Injury in Celiac Disease, celiac disease has been found in:
- 3-6% of patients with autoimmune hepatitis
- 3-7% of patients with primary billiary cirrhosis
- 2-3% of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis
- Research has shown a 3% prevalence of primary biliary cirrhosis in people with celiac disease. In single cases, celiac disease has also been found to be associated with autoimmune cholangitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.
- According to Leffler and Dennis, it has been found that liver function in patients who have "celiac hepatitis" tends to improve after one year on a strict gluten-free diet (Real Life with Celiac Disease: Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten-Free, p. 343).
Where can I learn more?
Do you or a family member suffer from this disease? You may have celiac disease. Find out now; take our celiac disease symptoms checklist.