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A Posssible Theory On Zonulin?
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Alright, I really didn't know where to post this, but i was doing some research in my biology class and i was thinking about genetic diseases and how celiac's have (generally) a higher level of zonulin in there systems. Through Darwin's theory of natural selection, no adverse genetic trait is ever favored unless as the side effect of another gene that is favored. This is exemplified with people that are hybrid for sickle cell anemia where they are immune to malaria. Now celiacs cannot metabolize gluten because their immune system freaks out and attacks it before we are able to do so, thus not affecting our already high zonulin levels. Now zonulin specifically regulates the permeability of the intestine to allow nutrients in or out and is necessary for us to absorb any nutrients, in our case we have a higher instance of absorption. This peaked my interest in several areas and led me to these questions:

Could our "disease" be actually a defense against too much zonulin? since gluten raises the levels of zonulin in the bloodstream.

My doctor has told me that celiacs are actually much more common now (about 1 in 300 versus the 1 in 30,000). does this mean that possibly we have some sort of genetic advantage that isn't really noticed/prevalent yet? over non celiacs that is.

Now more zonulin = more absorption(from what i've found, keep in mind it was only discovered in 2000). So does that mean we need less grains in the diet than others? or nutrients in general since we have an increased absorption naturally over other people (i assume from some reading i've done).

that's about it, i know i haven't been here in a while but since im essentially cured being on a gluten free diet, i haven't really had any questions

oh and these forums need a general discussion thread...this topic seems somewhat out of place here

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There have been at least 3 threads (I searched the forum using zonulin as search word).

http://www.glutenfreeforum.com/index.php?s...mp;#entry187920

under: post diagnosis - recovery and treatment

and... http://www.glutenfreeforum.com/index.php?s...mp;#entry261211

under:prediagnosis testing and symptoms

http://www.glutenfreeforum.com/index.php?s...mp;#entry267506

under gluten free foods, shopping and medication

As for a general discussion thread - there are so many trheads - general discussions can be started under any one of them. Eg: parents can start a general discusiion (and have) related to children and celiac. Teens have their threads too...then there are general discussions about food.....

My doctor has told me that celiacs are actually much more common now (about 1 in 300 versus the 1 in 30,000).

it is being diagnosed more now, so it seems to be on the rise - I think that many people walk around with celiac and never know... plus there was an old belief that celiac children outgrew the condition, I know of at least 3 people who were diagnosed celaic as children and refuse to believe they still have it.... in spite of osteoporosis, neurologic symtoms and fatigue.

does this mean that possibly we have some sort of genetic advantage that isn't really noticed/prevalent yet? over non celiacs that is.

IMHO it just means people with autoimmune diseases are living longer and reproducing - same as cancer patients, many survive and reproduce - thus passing on genetic traits for certain types of cancer. Then you have environmental triggers, refined foods, vaccines, emerging diseases... all increase the incidence of celiac... my theory anyway. Autoimmune disease has no one known cause, genetic susceptibility - certainly - and maybe zonulin plays a role in some individuals and not in others.

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Alright, I really didn't know where to post this, but i was doing some research in my biology class and i was thinking about genetic diseases and how celiac's have (generally) a higher level of zonulin in there systems.

You'll need to clarify this. Do people with a certain genetic makeup produce higher levels of zonulin, or is this a non-genetically related response to eating something we can't digest?

You'll need to find some research on people that have the (currently known) genetic markers for Celiac and see if anyone has looked at zonulin levels in these people that have no Celiac indicators. Also interesting would be to look at zonulin levels in Celiacs after long term gluten-free diets to see if it returns to "normal" levels.

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You'll need to clarify this. Do people with a certain genetic makeup produce higher levels of zonulin, or is this a non-genetically related response to eating something we can't digest?

You'll need to find some research on people that have the (currently known) genetic markers for Celiac and see if anyone has looked at zonulin levels in these people that have no Celiac indicators. Also interesting would be to look at zonulin levels in Celiacs after long term gluten-free diets to see if it returns to "normal" levels.

According to the research I've read, everyone produces zonulin when they eat wheat. But for some people, i.e. celiacs, it jams open the tight junctions longer making the gut much leakier.

I think the interesting thing is... if wheat is doing this to everyone, wouldn't we be a lot healthier as a people if we didn't eat wheat?

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I''m happy to know that I'm not the only biology scholar on the board. ;) Zonulin is a protein that regulates tight junctions in the intestinal mucosa. The normal function of this protein is to aid in diffusion by letting some species in (ions, ect.) while keeping others out, such as large proteins and microorganisms. From my research it seems that high levels of zonulin play a role in gluten's ability to cross the intestinal mucosa in celiac disease, which triggers the subsequent autoimmune reaction and the destruction of intestinal villi. In celiac disease there are elevated levels of anti-zonulin antibodies.

From an evolutionary stand point, zonulin is an important protein for regulating intestinal tight junctions as mentioned above. It follows that since it is an important protein, and it will be positively selected through evolution. Increased levels relative to Celiac disease, would not largely affect the gene pool. People with undiagnosed/untreated celiac disease to not tend to die before reproduction age. (Although infertility is associated with the disease.) So even if untreated celiac patients passed away by 40, they still would have had a chance to breed and pass on their genes to the next generation. Infertility would probably explain why the prevalence of celiac disease is as low as it is. The rate of diagnosed celiac disease is most likely rising due to increased awareness and better serological testing methods.

I found a good article on zonulin if anyone is interested:

http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlere...gi?artid=549484

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Speaking of tight-junctions and zonulin, I came across an article recently that MS patients may have an overly permeable blood/brain barrier. I believe that is also affected by zonulin. And this ties in nicely with the research Dr. Hadjivasillou has done on the gluten/brain connection.

There's also a zonulin controlled barrier at the skin level too, I think.

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yes i agree, everyone should eat less wheat than the S.A.D. usually includes. ESPECIALLY people who have a person with celiac in their family, which means they prob have higher levels on zonulin too!!

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