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    Gluten Causes Depression in People With Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity


    Jefferson Adams

    Celiac.com 05/29/2014 - Many people with celiac disease report symptoms of depression, which usually subside upon treatment with a gluten-free diet. But a new study out of Australia suggests that gluten can cause depression in people with non-celiac gluten-sensitivity.


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    Image: Van Gogh--Wikimedia CommonsCurrent evidence shows that many patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) continue to have gastrointestinal symptoms on a gluten-free diet, but say that avoiding gluten makes them feel ‘better'. So, why do people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity seem to feel better on a gluten-free diet, even if they still have gastrointestinal symptoms? A team of researchers wanted to know if this might be due to gluten’s effects on the mental state of those with NCGS, and not necessarily because of gastrointestinal symptoms.

    The research team included S. L. Peters, J. R. Biesiekierski, G. W. Yelland, J. G. Muir, and P. R. Gibson. They are affiliated with the Department of Gastroenterology, Central Clinical School of Monash University at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, the Department of Gastroenterology at the Eastern Health Clinical School of Monash University in Box Hill, and the School of Health Sciences at RMIT University in Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.

    For their double-blind cross-over study, they looked at 17 women and five men, aged 24–62 years. All participants suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, but not from celiac disease, and their symptoms were controlled on a gluten-free diet. The team gave the participants one of three random dietary challenges over 3 days, followed by a minimum 3-day washout before moving to the next diet. All participants got all three diets over the course of the study.

    For each phase, the team supplemented the challenge gluten-free food with gluten, (16 g/day), whey (16 g/day) or nothing at all (placebo). The team assessed mental state as determined by the Spielberger State Trait Personality Inventory (STPI), cortisol secretion and gastrointestinal symptoms.

    They found that gluten ingestion was associated with higher overall STPI state depression scores compared to placebo [M = 2.03, 95% CI (0.55–3.51), P = 0.010], but not whey [M = 1.48, 95% CI (−0.14 to 3.10), P = 0.07]. They found no differences for other STPI state indices or for any STPI trait measures, and they saw no difference in cortisol secretion between challenges. Gastrointestinal symptoms were similar for each dietary challenge.

    Short-term exposure to gluten specifically induced current feelings of depression with no effect on other indices or on emotional disposition. Moreover, the team saw no gluten-specific trigger of gastrointestinal symptoms. Such findings might explain why patients with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity feel better on a gluten-free diet despite the continuation of gastrointestinal symptoms.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He has covered Health News for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com. His work has appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate, among others.

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  • Related Articles

    Scott Adams
    Eur Psychiatry. 2004 Aug;19(5):311-4. Celiac.com 09/12/2004 - Israeli researchers conducted a study designed to determine whether or not an association exists between celiac disease and schizophrenia. Past studies have indicated that such a connection may exist. The researchers screened 50 consecutive patients over 18 years old who were diagnosed with schizophrenia and their matched controls for celiac-specific anti-endomysial IgA antibodies. All patients also completed a detailed questionnaire. There were no significant differences between the groups in gender, Body Mass Index (BMI) or country of birth, and the mean age of the study group was significantly higher than the controls. All tests for anti-endomysial antibodies in both groups were negative, and the researchers concluded that "In contrast to previous reports, we found no evidence for celiac disease in patients with chronic schizophrenia as manifested by the presence of serum IgA anti-endomysial antibodies. It is unlikely that there is an association between gluten sensitivity and schizophrenia"
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    This was a relatively small study that did not include other celiac disease screening methods, such as IgG (antigliadin antibody), tTG (tissue Transglutaminase), or intestinal biopsies. A recent study has shown that only 77% of those with total and 33% of those with partial villous atrophy actually have positive blood tests for celiac disease, so many cases of celiac disease may be missed by using only blood tests to screen for it. Further, about 4% of celiacs are anti-endomysial IgA deficient, so anyone in this subclass would have been missed in the study. Given such a small number of people in the study--50--if even one celiac were missed it would greatly affect the outcome of the study. Both groups should have been given much more comprehensive celiac disease screening to ensure that no cases of celiac disease were missed.
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    The introduction of more celiac disease specific serological markers such as anti-endomysium and more recently transglutaminase antibodies may have helped in diagnosing celiac disease but their sensitivity as markers of other manifestations of gluten sensitivity (where the bowel is not affected) is low. This certainly reflects our experience with patients with gluten sensitivity who present with neurological dysfunction. Endomysium and transglutaminase antibodies are only positive in the majority but not in all patients who have an enteropathy. Patients with an enteropathy represent only a third of patients with neurological manifestations and gluten sensitivity. Antigliadin antibodies unlike endomysium and transglutaminase antibodies are not autoantibodies. They are antibodies against the protein responsible for gluten sensitivity.
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    Jefferson Adams
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    Source: BBC News


    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 07/13/2009 - Doctors are recommending that kids with mental and behavioral disorders, and with low cholesterol be tested for celiac disease.
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    Jefferson Adams
    Celiac.com 02/13/2013 - A team of researchers wanted to determine whether levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG) were associated with a later diagnosis of a non-affective psychotic disorder.
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    They point out that more research is needed to identify the mechanisms underlying this association in order to develop preventive strategies.
    Source:
    Am J Psychiatry. 2012 Jun;169(6):625-32. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2012.11081197.

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