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  • Why Does Gluten Intolerance Happen So Quickly?

Why Does Gluten Intolerance Happen So Quickly?

Sep 14 2019 Read 527 Times

According to the latest statistics from Mintel, around 7% of British adults actively avoid gluten because of an "intolerance" or "allergy" caused by the group of proteins. For patients diagnosed with the autoimmune disorder known as celiac disease, the symptoms can be severe.

So, what causes the negative reaction after eating gluten-rich products such as bread, luncheon meats, seasoned snack foods and soup mixes?

Linking celiac to CD4+ T cells and cytokines

New research published in the journal Science Advances explains how people with celiac disease possess CD4+ T cells that rapidly deposit immune chemicals called cytokines into the bloodstream when exposed to gluten proteins such as wheat, rye and barley. This reaction damages the small intestine and can trigger symptoms like abdominal pain and nausea within an hour of consuming gluten.

Until now, the only remedy for celiac disease has been strict adherence to a gluten-free diet. Though thanks to the new study pioneered by Massachusetts based vaccine development company ImmusanT Inc, new therapies for the autoimmune disease could soon become an option.

New autoimmune disease vaccine in the works

To develop the vaccine, the team injected gluten peptides under the skin of patients diagnosed with celiac disease. Others were given a drink laced with wheat flour. Around two hours after exposure to gluten, the team recorded an increase in levels of interleukin-2 (IL-2), a cytokine released by CD4+ T cells. They also noted a spike in other immune chemicals produced by CD4+ T cells.

“When patients ate gluten, symptoms and cytokines went up at the same time,” says Robert Anderson, chief scientist of ImmusanT Inc.

As cytokine levels increased, nausea and vomiting became more intense. By confirming the link between celiac symptoms and certain cytokines, Anderson and his team hope to develop new therapies that actively block CD4+ T cells that react to gluten. The research could also help doctors diagnose celiac disease by measuring levels of IL-2 in the blood, instead of exposing patients to tests that involve exposure to gluten.

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