Celiac sprue is a genetic disorder that affects 1 of every 2000 Caucasians. It results from a
reaction to gluten protein in which antibodies attack the tissue of the small intestine and initiate
an inflammatory reaction. The left side of this image shows normal intestine with prominent villi
lined by tall columnar enterocytes and goblet cells. The image on the right is a pathological
intestine. Note the flattened epithelium and shortened villi. These changes greatly decrease the
absorptive capacity of the small intestine and result in osmotic diarrhea.