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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Can Corn Trigger Adverse Reactions in Some Celiac Patients?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: New research indicates that corn may be a concern for some celiacs.

    Celiac.com 12/03/2010 - An interesting finding regarding corn from a research team based in Sweden that studied the effects of both gluten and corn on patients with celiac disease.

    The research team included G. Kristjánsson, M. Högman, P. Venge, R. and Hällgren, who are affiliated variously with the Department of Gastroenterology, the Department of Medical Cell Biology, Section of Integrative Physiology, the Laboratory for Inflammation Research, and the Department of Rheumatology at Uppsala University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden.

    Specifically, the team sought to better understand the facets of nitric oxide (NO) production induced by rectal gluten challenge and the relationship between nitric oxide production and mucosal granulocyte activation.

    The team measured the release of rectal nitric oxide in 13 patients with celiac disease and in 18 control subjects. The team measured levels both before and after rectal wheat gluten challenge.

    To collect the gas, the team used a rectal balloon and a newly developed instrument, which allows simultaneous measurements of concentrations of granulocyte mediators in the rectal mucosa. This new technique is called the “mucosal patch technique”.

    The technique allowed the team to measure myeloperoxidase (MPO), eosinophil cationic protein (ECP), and histamine.

    They found that concentrations of rectal nitric oxide increased in ALL celiac patients after wheat gluten challenge, peaking at 15 hours (average concentrations of 9464 (SEM 2393) parts per billion (ppb), with a range of 250–24982 ppb.

    The maximum MPO and ECP increase occurred five hours after challenge. At the fifteen hour mark, the team observed a correlation between mucosal MPO and nitric oxide production.

    They then compared their results against measurements taken after corn gluten challenge. Six of the celiac patients showed an increase in nitric oxide production 15 hours after rectal corn gluten challenge, though much smaller than after gluten challenge. The control group showed no increases after either challenge.

    The main findings showed that mucosal activation of neutrophils and eosinophils precedes pronounced enhancement of mucosal nitric oxide production after rectal wheat gluten challenge in patients with celiac disease.

    The researchers also found that some patients with celiac disease show signs of an inflammatory reaction after rectal corn gluten challenge, shown by increased nitric oxide production and activation of granulocyte markers.

    The fact that nearly half of the celiac patients in this small sample showed increases in nitric oxide production after a corn challenge is definitely interesting, and calls out for further study.

    Source:

    Update by Elaine E. Thompson, Ph.D. submitted 12/03/2010:
    In this study the researchers discovered that the cornmeal they tested was contaminated with wheat. Please revise this blog entry to reflect the flaw in the study.

    "The manufacturer claimed that their corn product was free from wheat or other cereals. We tested the product at the Swedish National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) and it was found to be contaminated with 82 μg/g (ppm), which is less than the usual allowed amount in a gluten free diet (<200 ppm) according to the Codex Alimentarius Standard for gluten free foods, and far less than what has been found to be a safe amount of gluten contamination when correlated with histology in oral challenge studies. It cannot be excluded that the small amounts of gluten present in the corn preparation induced an inflammatory reaction as the mucosal patch technique is very sensitive. "


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    Guest Elaine E. Thompson, Ph.D.

    Posted

    In this study the researchers discovered that the cornmeal they tested was contaminated with wheat. Please revise this blog entry to reflect the flaw in the study.

     

    "The manufacturer claimed that their corn product was free from wheat or other cereals. We tested the product at the Swedish National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) and it was found to be contaminated with 82 μg/g (ppm), which is less than the usual allowed amount in a gluten free diet (<200 ppm) according to the Codex Alimentarius Standard for gluten free foods, and far less than what has been found to be a safe amount of gluten contamination when correlated with histology in oral challenge studies. It cannot be excluded that the small amounts of gluten present in the corn preparation induced an inflammatory reaction as the mucosal patch technique is very sensitive. "

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    Last year, suspecting I may have a corn allergy, I eliminated it from my diet. When I attempted to add corn back into my diet a couple of months later the reaction was incredibly severe. It was similar to my reaction to gluten; which really baffled me until now when I read this article. Thank you for sharing it. This study certainly warrants further investigation.

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    Just to add to the conversation, my daughter, who was diagnosed with celiac disease this spring, cannot tolerate corn either. She has tried non-GMO popcorn and it did not trouble her at all. So we can only surmise the the GMO corn is the culprit.

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    Guest Jefferson Adams

    Posted

    @ Elaine: Excellent point. I will include an update. Thank you!

     

    "The manufacturer claimed that their corn product was free from wheat or other cereals. We tested the product at the Swedish National Food Administration (Livsmedelsverket) and it was found to be contaminated with 82 μg/g (ppm), which is less than the usual allowed amount in a gluten free diet (<200 ppm) according to the Codex Alimentarius Standard for gluten free foods, and far less than what has been found to be a safe amount of gluten contamination when correlated with histology in oral challenge studies. It cannot be excluded that the small amounts of gluten present in the corn preparation induced an inflammatory reaction as the mucosal patch technique is very sensitive. "

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    I have tried some gluten free products that have non organic corn and have had inflammatory reactions. So now I only use Non GMO Organic corn meal, popcorn, etc. and I seem to do okay.

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    I have celiac, am corn sensitive and maintain a gluten-free/corn free diet. Like many my blood tests for celiac disease were negative however my food challenge was positive and my doctor gave me a celiac disease diagnosis based on my reaction to gluten foods. In my discussion with dieticians and scientists there is a non-agreement as to the existence of corn gluten; however you can buy corn gluten in gardening supply stores and the book Omnivors Delimma by Micheal Pollan lists corn gluten as a by product of the GMO corn industry. Based on my response to corn my vote is yes to the existence and detrimental affects of corn (gluten). I have tested but have not noticed a difference in reaction to non-GMO and GMO corn. Since approx 98% of the world's corn is GMO It is extremely difficult for the average person to get real corn in the general food supply. In a recent study it was stated 1/33 children tested positive for celiac disease. Since most processed foods contain GMO corn in the form of additives and or preservatives the presence of corn as a hidden source of Gluten is a major concern. I am convinced this covert presence of corn in processed foods (including gluten-free Foods) is a major contributor to the growing global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other auto-immune disorders and in my work as an ND I remain vigilant for the affects of gluten sensitivity (GS) (including corn) in the well being of all my clients and provide information and mentor-ship for living without these foods. Since many gluten-free foods contain corn it is important to observe those on gluten-free diets who are still consuming corn and still have symptoms of GS that have not completely abated. Thank you all for your informative contributions to this discussion; together we work to inform the world.

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    I have celiac, am corn sensitive and maintain a gluten-free/corn free diet. Like many my blood tests for celiac disease were negative however my food challenge was positive and my doctor gave me a celiac disease diagnosis based on my reaction to gluten foods. In my discussion with dieticians and scientists there is a non-agreement as to the existence of corn gluten; however you can buy corn gluten in gardening supply stores and the book Omnivors Delimma by Micheal Pollan lists corn gluten as a by product of the GMO corn industry. Based on my response to corn my vote is yes to the existence and detrimental affects of corn (gluten). I have tested but have not noticed a difference in reaction to non-GMO and GMO corn. Since approx 98% of the world's corn is GMO It is extremely difficult for the average person to get real corn in the general food supply. In a recent study it was stated 1/33 children tested positive for celiac disease. Since most processed foods contain GMO corn in the form of additives and or preservatives the presence of corn as a hidden source of Gluten is a major concern. I am convinced this covert presence of corn in processed foods (including gluten-free Foods) is a major contributor to the growing global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer and other auto-immune disorders and in my work as an ND I remain vigilant for the affects of gluten sensitivity (GS) (including corn) in the well being of all my clients and provide information and mentor-ship for living without these foods. Since many gluten-free foods contain corn it is important to observe those on gluten-free diets who are still consuming corn and still have symptoms of GS that have not completely abated. Thank you all for your informative contributions to this discussion; together we work to inform the world.

    Corn gluten does exist--but has always been considered safe for those with celiac disease, although not much research has actually been done on this.

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    Hi, and well done for this great website, is really helpful and makes me feel I am not alone with my problem. I'm 51, live in Italy, the pasta realm, so you can imagine my frustration ... The onset of my intolerance has been very slow, like one big reaction once or twice a year. 5 years ago I started to be regularly sick, and the blood test was showing no signs of the pathology. Excluded gluten and within 5 to 7 days the symptoms regressed almost to normality. Cannot eat corn at all, no popcorn, and not even corn crackers for celiacs, so I guess there is a correlation. Wine is also a problem, as I can only take small quantities, and not on a regular base, like a couple of glasses a week. Keep up the good work.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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