Patients with celiac disease have to follow a gluten-free diet, which is the only recognized medicine in the treatment of this disease. It is believed that genetics plays the most important role in the development of this disease, however, is influenced by environmental factors. Recently researchers from Monash University have found that excessive immune response to gluten may be caused by exposure to certain bacteria.
Recall that the gluten is group of proteins found in wheat, rye and barley, as well as the products produced by them: bread, pasta and baked goods.
Gluten poses no threat to most people, but in patients with celiac disease, it causes an autoimmune response. As a result, the person has inflammation in the intestines and discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract. For this reason sensitive to gluten people is the easiest way to avoid eating foods with it.
As the experts explain, there are two main gene associated with celiac disease. But, interestingly, this disease develops in only a small number of people with one or two of these genes.
For this reason, scientists have suggested that there are other factors that lead to the development of the disease in those people who are initially predisposed to it. In particular, earlier studies have shown that rotavirus infection at a certain stage of development may lead to overreaction of the immune system to gluten.
Now, Australian experts have found that certain types of bacteria can affect the immune system in the same way. Fragments of the proteins of these bacteria are very similar with the fragments of the gluten. After struggling with the pathogen, the immune system begins to over-react to gluten.
To determine whether this is so in fact, scientists have identified the receptors of T cells of the immune system. The latter were taken from patients with celiac disease. Then the researchers subjected them to the impact of fragments of bacterial protein. It turned out that T cells “recognize” and respond to them. This reaction confirmed the hypothesis of the researchers.
“During celiac people have the wrong reaction to gluten, we found evidence that there is a connection between gluten and proteins that exist in some bacteria”, – said the head of Hugh Reid (Hugh Reid).
That is, the scientist continues, perhaps the immune system reacts to bacterial proteins, and thus develops a reaction to gluten because it resembles the immune system of the “enemy”.
Scientists need to do a lot of work to find other evidence of this hypothesis. However, they believe that this study may lead to the development of new methods of diagnosis and treatment of celiac disease.
Scientific article on the results of the study published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.
By the way, before scientists have created a gluten-free GM wheat and find out which bread is healthier – white or black.