Celiac.com 05/21/2009 - To better diagnose celiac disease, assess intestinal damage, and monitor treatment over the long-term, doctors are looking to develop a whole new set of non-invasive evaluation tools.

One of the tools currently of interest are fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs), these are small cytosolic proteins found in enterocytes (tall columnar cells and responsible for the final digestion and absorption of nutrients, electrolytes and water). FABPs are reliable indicators of intestinal mucosal damage, and are potentially useful for non-invasive assessment of intestinal damage in celiac patients.

A team of researchers in the Institute of Nutrition and Toxicology Research at Maastricht University, as well as the departments of Surgery, Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at University Hospital Maastricht, recently set out to assess the potential use of FABPs in non-invasive assessment of intestinal damage in celiac disease. The study team was made up of J. P. Derikx, A. C. Vreugdenhil, A. M. Van den Neucker, J.Grootjans J, A. A. van Bijnen, J.G. Damoiseaux, L. W. van Heurn, E. Heineman, and W. A. Buurman.

They began by examining the distribution and microscopic localization of FABPs in healthy human intestinal tissue. They then checked circulating levels of intestinal (I)-FABP and liver (L)-FABP in 26 healthy control subjects, and in 13 patients with