A team led by Dr. Melinda Raki set out to compare the antigen-presenting cells in the small intestine of patients with celiac disease versus those from normal individuals.
The study used multiple duodenal biopsy specimens from 14 patients with untreated celiac disease, 6 with treated celiac disease and 4 controls.
Antigen presenting cells are so termed because they present gluten to the T-cells, which then contribute to the inflammation that damages the villi in the intestinal lining of those with celiac disease.
Researcher found that in the normal duodenal mucosa, about 20% of the HLA-DQ2 molecules associated with celiac disease were Cd11c+ dendritic cells. These dendritic cells accrued in the celiac lesions of the untreated celiac subjects.
When these CD11c+ cells were removed from the biopsy samples, they provoked an adverse gluten reaction in the T-cells.
The study indicates that a greater knowledge of antigen-presenting cells will yield a more complete understanding of the dynamics of celiac disease, the means by which inflammation occurs, and the means by which it can be controlled or avoided altogether.