Exposure to Specific Bacteria Linked in Celiac Diseaseadmin
Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine, affects at least 3 million Americans, approximately 97% of whom are undiagnosed, according to The University of Chicago Medicine. While some sufferers have a genetic predisposition to the disease, a group of scientists believes they’ve identified a bacteria capable of triggering the disease, IFLScience.com reports.
When people with celiac consume gluten, their immune system treats it as a threat, triggering inflammation in the small intestine which can lead to stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
Recently, a team of Australian scientists from the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute (BDI) and ARC Centre of Excellence in Advanced Molecular Imaging isolated protein fragments from a particular bacteria from the T cells of celiac patients and found these bacterial protein fragments were mimicking the protein fragments in gluten. The researchers believe that those genetically predisposed to develop celiac disease came in contact with this gluten-mimicking bacteria, then, every time they consumed gluten after that, the individual’s immune system would induce a response that upsets the person’s digestive system. Their findings were published in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology.
“In celiac disease, you get aberrant reactivity to gluten and we have provided a proof-of-principle that there’s a link between gluten proteins and proteins that are found in some bacteria,” Dr. Hugh Reid, a co-lead researcher from Monash University, said in a statement.
“That is, it’s possible that the immune system reacts to the bacterial proteins in a normal immune response and in so doing develops a reaction to gluten proteins because, to the immune system, they look indistinguishable – like a mimic.”
Dr. Reid believes these findings could eventually lead to the development of diagnostic and treatment procedures.