A recent study at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, has shown that antibodies which are produced by people who are sensitive to gluten are different from those produced by people with celiac disease. The discovery could help doctors diagnose gluten sensitivity.
Until recently, many doctors will often dismiss complaints from people who claim to be sensitive to foods that contain gluten but do not have celiac disease. Celiac disease is a well documented autoimmune disease that is triggered by exposure to the dietary protein found in barley, rye and wheat.
This view has changed based partly on studies that have delved into the biological basis for gluten sensitivity that is not the same as celiac disease. However, many aspects of non-celiac gluten sensitivity including how to diagnose it and what causes it is still poorly understood.
The new study has shown that people who do suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity like those with celiac disease, produce a high level of anti-gluten antibodies. However, the two conditions differ in the antibody types produced and the subsequent inflammatory responses these antibodies trigger.
The research team analyzed blood samples obtained from 40 patients who had celiac disease, 80 patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and 40 healthy controls. All participants consumed an unrestricted, gluten-containing diet.
They found that the B cells found in celiac disease produced a subclass profile of lgG antibodies with strong inflammatory potential that is linked to autoimmune activity and also intestinal cell damage. In contrast, the people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity produced lgG antibodies that are linked to a more restrained inflammatory response.
Those antibodies could possibly be used in the future to help doctors more easily diagnose people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity which is currently difficult to diagnose. The profiles of the different antibodies also suggest potential new therapies for celiac disease. This disease is currently only treated through diet.
The team’s data suggests that celiac patients generate a strong B-cell inflammatory response every time they consume gluten. However, the immune system in people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity learns from its earlier encounters with gluten and generates less inflammatory responses to the antigen in subsequent interactions.
The team believes that if they can drive specific cells of celiac patients toward less inflammatory states, they may be able to prevent or reduce the severity of the immunologic reaction to gluten.
To view the original scientific study click below