Celiac.com 09/16/2008 - Cytokines are regulatory proteins that act as mediators in the generation of an immune response. Interleukin 21 (IL-21) is on such cytokine.

A team of Italian and British researchers recently evaluated the production of IL-21 in the intestinal mucosa of patients with untreated celiac disease. Several studies have documented the ability of IL-21's to regulate cytokine production by certain T cells. Another recent study demonstrated a connection between celiac disease and what is called the susceptibility locus in the chromosome 4q27, which harbors the IL-21 gene.

The researchers, led by Dr. G. Monteleone at Universita Tor Vergata in Rome, set out to examine the molecular mechanisms tying IFN-gamma with celiac disease. The team found that people with celiac disease produce excess IL-21, and that IL-21 is responsible for encouraging production of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma).

In active celiac disease, large numbers of polarized T helper Type 1 (Th1) cells accumulate in the upper intestinal tract, where they produce large amounts of IFN-gamma. The team looked at upper