Celiac.com 05/19/2014 - A research team recently examined the effects of prednisolone and a gluten-free diet on mucosal epithelial cell regeneration and apoptosis in celiac disease.
For their pilot randomized, controlled trial, the team looked at thirty-three untreated patients with celiac disease. They randomly assigned 17 of them to a gluten-free diet alone, and the other 16 to a gluten-free diet + prednisolone. Gluten intake was 1 mg/kg for 4 weeks.
The team conducted duodenal biopsies at the start, and at 4 and 8 weeks following treatment. They recruited six patients with functional dyspepsia as control subjects.
The team stained all biopsies for markers of intrinsic apoptotic pathway (AIF, H2AX, p53), common apoptotic pathway (CC3, M30), apoptotic inhibitors (XIAP, Bcl2), and epithelial proliferation (Ki-67). They then compared apoptotic (AI) and proliferation indices (PI).
Initial duodenal biopsies showed the end apoptotic products H2AX and M30 to be markedly higher.
In comparison with those treated with GFD alone, after 4 weeks of GFD + prednisolone treatment, some markers of both intrinsic and common apoptotic pathways showed rapid decline.
After prednisolone withdrawal, there was overexpression of H2AX, CC3, and p53 in the latter group. In comparison with those treated with only GFD, patients treated with prednisolone showed suppression of mucosal PI, which started rising again after withdrawal of prednisolone.
Apoptosis takes place in mucosal epithelium in celiac disease.
The take away here is that a short course of prednisolone quickly suppresses apoptosis. However, it also suppresses epithelial regeneration, an so should be used only for a short time, if at all.