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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Elevated Serum Cytokines and Celiac Disease

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Celiac.com 11/11/2009 - Although doctors view celiac disease mainly as a gastrointestinal disease, it is now known to have widespread systemic manifestations.

    A team of researchers recently set out to define the nature and role of systemic cytokine levels in the pathophysiology of celiac disease.  The research team was made up of John Sanil Manavalan, Lincoln Hernandez, Jayesh Girish Shah, John Konikkara, Afzal Jamal Naiyer, Anne Roland Lee, Edward Ciaccio, Maria Theresa Minaya, Peter H.R. Green, and Govind Bhagat of the Departments of Medicine and Pathology at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons.

    The team conducted multiplex cytokine assays on four different groups of adult patients: patients with active celiac disease; patients on a gluten-free diet with positive TTG IgA antibodies, patients on a gluten-free diet with negative antibodies; and those with refractory celiac disease.

    They then compared the results against the values in healthy adult controls.

    Patients with active celiac disease and those on gluten-free diet with positive antibodies showed substantially higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interferon-, interleukin (IL)–1, tumor necrosis factor–, IL-6 and IL-8, and also Th-2 cytokines such as IL-4 and IL-10, compared with normal controls and patients on a gluten-free diet without antibodies.

    One interesting finding was that patients following a gluten-free diet for under 1 year showed substantially higher levels of both pro-inflammatory cytokines and Th2 cytokines compared with the patients on gluten-free diet for more than 1 year.

    Moreover, the team noted a statistically significant association between levels of TTG IgA titers and serum levels of Th-2 cytokines IL-4 (p 0.001), IL-10 (p  0.001) and inflammatory cytokines such as IL-1 (p  0.001), IL-1 (p 0.005), and IL-8 (p  0.05).

    Journal of Human Immunology, 2009.
    j.humimm.2009.09.351


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    This is very interesting - I hope I have understood this, it looks as though scientists are beginning to see the process by which untreated celiacs have higher death rates for their age, and how their susceptibility to some sorts of cancers might work. I really find your summaries useful Scott, but it would be even more helpful if you spelled out the meaning of some of the scientific terms more and your take on what it might mean. You've read so much science now that you understand it perfectly, but it is quite challenging for the general reader.

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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 biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. 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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