Coeliac Disease in Callitrichids

Source:; zoo nutrition news, special issue 3
Not only humans can be allergic to gluten; marmosets and callitrichids (Callitrichidae) too.
A healthy small intestine has many folds and ridges, which tremendously enlarge the surface so that nutrients can be absorbed well. The villi make enzymes that take care of the digestion of the food.
Coeliac disease is the damaging of the mucous of the small intestine (flocky atrophy), causing the villi to disappear. This is caused by gliadin, a component of gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley. Oats aren’t proven to contain gluten.

The result of the damaged mucous will be malabsorption, which will cause a shortage of nutrients. The impaired digestion may cause either chronic diarrhoea, a thick, reeking faeces, or constipation.

To prevent or fight these symptoms, a gluten-free diet is necessary. Because of the diet the mucous of the small intestine will recover, and eventually (varying from several months to a year) it will be able to absorb once again all nutrients that the body needs.

A gluten-free diet may consist of: vegetables, pulses, nuts, meat, fish, Dutch cheese, milk, yoghurt, and eggs.