Celiac.com 04/29/2005 – According to Italian researchers an improper immune response to wheat may play an important role in the pathogenesis of Type 1 diabetes. The researchers fed one group of female non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice a standard gluten-free diet, while another group of NOD mice was fed a standard gluten-free diet that also included wheat proteins. The researchers then evaluated the small intestinal architecture of the mice and found that the wheat-protein group "showed reduced villous height, increased intraepithelial infiltration by CD3(+) cells and enhanced expression of H2-IA and IFN-gamma mRNA when compared with mice on the gluten-free diet." After 43 weeks the cumulative incidence of diabetes was 65% in the gluten-free group, and 97% in the wheat-protein group. The researchers conclude that the mice that ate wheat proteins had a much higher incidence of diabetes and small intestinal enteropathy that included higher mucosal levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines.