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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Could Changing Gut Bacteria Prevent Celiac Disease?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 11/20/2015 - A Canadian researcher has discovered what might be a big step toward preventing celiac disease. Dr. Elena Verdú, an associate professor at the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University, has found that bacteria in the gut may contribute to the body's response to gluten. 

    Image: CC--Hobvias SudoneighmIf her discovery pans out, it may be possible to treat, or even prevent, celiac disease by changing the the type of bacteria in the gut. "By changing the type of bacteria in the gut, we could change the inflammatory response to gluten," says Verdú.

    So far, researchers have been unable to explain why 30 per cent of people have genes that can cause celiac disease, but only 2 to 5 per cent actually develop it. Also a mystery is why the disease develops at any age. Higher rates of celiac disease are being driven not just be better testing and awareness, but also by external triggers.

    According to Dr. Decker Butzner, a Calgary-based pediatric gastroenterologist, there are another triggering factor which we've never understood…[t]here is an environmental trigger."

    Researchers have known for some time that people with celiac disease have different types of gut bacteria than those without celiac disease, but they didn't whether the changes in gut bacteria were caused by celiac disease, or the other way around.

    Verdú's study, which found that the inflammatory response to gluten was impacted by gut microbiota, is the first study to show that it is the gut microbes are likely triggering celiac disease.

    The study appears in the American Journal of Pathology.

    Read more at TheSpec.com.


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    This is an interesting subject as I have already seen how certain gut bacteria can either greatly benefit or greatly slow peristalsis through either allowing tryptophan to be absorbed and converted into serotonin or instead cause malabsorption and breakdown of tryptophan. So proper enteric bacterial population is very important and I have found only one really great source which is Wallaby Kefir which contains several serotogenic varieties.

    On another subject I define Celiac patients as poor digesters of protein. Therefore, achlorhydria (a lack of stomach acid) couild indeed be the first domino in the ultimate indigestion of the gliaden protein , and a stomach with a low pH keeps other bacterial interlopers that do not belong from invading the intestine, a very important function, plus stomach acid enables Pepsin activation, the first step in complex protein breakdown of gliaden, and that acidity initiates brush border and pancreatic enzymes such as prolyl endopeptidase to further cleave the Gliadin protein that initiates Celiac response.

    I think this bacterial role is a valid point. There are symbiotic bacteria in the human gut which must be encouraged, while the bad dysbiotic bacteria need to be prevented such as those found in Small Intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and the stomach acid and later basic bicarbonate and digestive enzymes from the pancreas also plays an important role in segregating those bacteria......thanks

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    Fascinating. I technically don't have celiac disease. I had a positive blood test, but negative biopsy. However, in college , I had a terrible time with repeated bouts of strep throat and sinusitis, and took numerous courses of antibiotics. I now wonder if that changed my gut bacteria and started me down the road of gluten intolerance.

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    My son was hospitalized for a week and was on constant IV antibiotics during that time. About 8 months after he was discharged I was concerned that he was not gaining weight. Blood work and endoscopy w/biopsy confirmed celiac disease. My son is 17 years old, 6' 3 1/2" and weighs 145 lbs. I believe the week of constant IV antibiotics triggered his celiac disease.

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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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