Celiac disease can be developed only in people who are genetically predisposed to suffer from it, but the actual reasons for its incidence are still vague.
However, newest research suggests that it can be caused by the way some gut bacteria respond to gluten, which is protein included in grains, such as barley, wheat, and rye.
It is an immune disease in which the individual is gluten- intolerant, a person is intolerant to gluten. Apparently, about 1% of the population in the U.S.A. suffers from celiac disease.
Namely, as soon as a celiac disease patient consumed gluten, his/her immune system reacts by damaging the small intestine and causes other symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, and abdominal pain.
Moreover, this disease is also stimulated by some gene mutations. Yet, only 2-3% of people who have these mutations develop celiac disease.
These are the most significant facts about this illness:
- Its only existing treatment is a diet which includes no gluten
- About 5-22% of patients with this condition have a first-degree relative with celiac disease.
- Approximately 83% of the population in the U.S. with celiac disease is undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions
A team consisted of Dr. Elena F. Verdu, the lead investigator, of the Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Canada, and her colleagues examined the response of the immune system to gluten in the cases of several different types of gut bacteria in mice intolerant to this protein. The American Journal of Pathology includes the findings of this study.
Namely, researchers examined mice divided into three groups, which expressed a gene known as DQ8, which can be found in people and makes them genetically prone to gluten intolerance.
Each of these groups included different gut microbiomes or gut bacteria compositions. The first group was germ-free, the second was specific-pathogen-free (SPF); so their gut microbiomes contained no opportunistic pathogens or Proteobacteria or gram-negative bacteria.
The last group consisted of conventional SPF mice, which had various kinds of gut bacteria, such as opportunistic pathogens like Helicobacter, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, as well as Proteobacteria.
All mice were subjected to gluten, and the results were the following:
- In the case of germ-free mice, the levels of intraepithelial lymphocytes (IELs) in the gut were raised. Namely, the activation and proliferation of these IELs are an early symptom of celiac disease. Yet, there was no increase in the levels of IELs in the case of clean SPF mice.
- Moreover, in the event of the germ-free mice, scientists found an anatomical modification of the villi, which are small, fingerlike projections that line the small intestine, as well as an increase in the rate of death of enterocytes, which are cells that line the gastrointestinal tract.
Additionally, in the germ-free mice, the team discovered the development of antibodies in response to gliadin, which is an ingredient of gluten. Also, these mice also showed T-cell responses unique to gliadin.
What’s more, although these scientists discovered a termination of the development of gluten-induced pathology in the case of clean SPF mice, in comparison to the germ-free mice, as soon as they were given entero- adherent Escherichia coli from an individual suffering from with celiac disease, it was no longer the case.
According to the team, conventional SPF mice showed more significant gluten-induced pathology compared to clean SPF mice. Therefore, researchers started examining the possibility that the presence of Proteobacteria, like Helicobacter or Escherichia, can be an influential factor.
Hence, they found that the gluten-induced pathology became aggravated as soon as researchers boosted the presence of Proteobacteria in conventional SPF mice by using an antibiotic known as vancomycin around the time of their birth. In particular, researchers found increased levels of IELs.
Dr. Verdu explains “These studies demonstrate that perturbation of early microbial colonization in life and induction of dysbiosis (microbial imbalance inside the body), characterized by increased Proteobacteria, enhances the severity of gluten-induced responses in mice genetically predisposed to gluten sensitivity.Importantly, our data argue that the recognized increase in celiac disease prevalence in the general population over the last 50 years could be driven, at least in part, by perturbations in intestinal microbial ecology. Specific microbiota-based therapies may aid in the prevention or treatment of celiac disease in subjects with moderate genetic risk.”
Dr. Robin G. Lorenz, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, in an editorial related to this study, claims that even though the results of this study suggest that the presence of Proteobacteria may significantly affect the celiac disease pathology, they do not show that the illness is caused by Proteobacteria. This may only indicate that Proteobacteria stimulates the immune response to gluten or gliadin.
Furthermore, another study reported by Medical News Today this year also suggested that patients with this disease are more likely to develop nerve damage.
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