Celiac disease is a hereditary autoimmune disease in which the consumption of gluten damages the small intestines, which can lead to malnutrition. When gluten enters the body, the immune system responds by attacking the small intestines. When the small intestines are attacked, the villi are damaged, which inhibits their ability to properly absorb nutrients through their outer most layer, which is made of simple columnar epithelium tissue.

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  1. For Erika’s STEAM project she made a drawing showing the difference between a healthy small intestine and one from someone with villous atrophy from celiac disease. As you can see from the picture, the drawing of the healthy small intestine shows how food absorbs in the small intestine. In the second drawing (the one showing celiac disease), the immune system is attacking the small intestine because of the gluten that was consumed, causing villous atrophy.
    If celiac disease is left untreated it can cause malabsorption. This happens because the immune system will continue to attack the villi in the small intestine, and the villi is what helps the small intestine absorb essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from food. Once the villi is damaged, it will limit the amount of nutrients absorbed from food, which over time can lead to malabsorption.
    One way this project applies to this course is because celiac disease can cause other diseases like bone weakness and osteoporosis, which was studied during the skeletal system unit. Intreated celiac disease can lead to this disease because the body won’t be able to absorb all the nutrients needed to maintain healthy bones, which can lead to a loss of bone density and osteoarthritis.

    Hannah Sears

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