How celiac disease can interfere with pregnancy

By Van Waffle

Summary: Celiac disease increases risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and other problems during pregnancy. However, the cause is poorly understood. In this study, Italian researchers identified one way the disease can damage the placenta.

Celiac disease involves an autoimmune response; patients produce antibodies that attack essential enzymes in their own digestive tracts. These particular autoantibodies are called anti-transglutaminase type 2 (anti-TG2). For this study, the researchers looked at how the antibody acts on cell tissue from blood vessels in the uterus. They observed the response in vitro and in live mice. Tests showed anti-TG2 binds with cells and interferes with growth of new blood vessels by several different mechanisms.

Conclusion: Antibodies in celiac patients can impair development of the placenta. This study provides a basis for future research about celiac disease and pregnancy. It also highlights the value of screening pregnant mothers for celiac disease.


[1] “Potential new mechanisms of placental damage in celiac disease: anti-transglutaminase antibodies impair human endometrial angiogenesis”, Di Simone N, De Spirito M, Di Nicuolo F, Tersigni C, Castellani R, Silano M, Maulucci G, Papi M, Scambia G, Gasbarrini A, Biology of Reproduction 2013 Sep 18 [Epub ahead of print].

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