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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Scientists Finally Know What Causes Celiac Disease!

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Caption: Champagne toast! Photo: CC--Ryan Hyde

    Celiac.com 08/19/2015 - For the first time since it was described and named by 1st century Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia, first linked to wheat in the 1940's, and specifically linked to gluten in 1952, scientists have discovered the cause of celiac disease.

    Photo: CC--Ryan HydeProfessor Ludvig Sollid, and his team at the Centre for Immune Regulation at University of Oslo, have discovered that people with celiac disease suffer from one of two defective human leukocyte antigens (HLAs), which cause the immune system to see gluten molecules as dangerous, triggering the immune response that causes classic celiac-associated inflammation and other symptoms.

    To be true, the team was not working in the dark. They were armed with a complete map of the genes, an understanding that two types of HLA (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8) predispose a person for celiac disease, and the very crucial recent discovery by a team of German colleagues that celiac patients have antibodies for a very precise enzyme: transglutaminase 2.

    "We also found that the bits of gluten that were presented to the T-cells have some changes caused by an enzyme in the body – transglutaminase 2", says Sollid. HLAs are proteins which act as markers, binding to fragments of other proteins, and telling T-cells how to treat them.

    So it wasn't much of a stretch for Professor Sollid's team to determine that the defective HLAs bind to fragments of gluten, causing the T-cells to treat them as bacteria or viruses.

    Basically, two HLA types present gluten remnants to the T-cells, causing the T-cells to regard the gluten as dangerous, and to trigger immune reactions that cause inflammation in the intestines, and this is what causes celiac disease.

    "We think that this is huge," Sollid said. "We understand the immune cells that are activated and why they are activated."

    At present, Professor Sollid and his group are investigating how antibodies against transglutaminase are formed.

    This is a simple, but huge moment in the annals of medicine and in the annals of celiac disease. It's a discovery that will help researchers develop new approaches to treatment, and/or a cure for celiac disease in the future.

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    Gluten destroyed my health. I don't have HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. So for many of us with a gluten problem, this explanation is not helpful.

    If you don't have either genetic marker you don't have celiac disease...which is what this article is about.

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    If you don't have either genetic marker you don't have celiac disease...which is what this article is about.

    Those are only the 'known' markers so far. Science does not yet know it all.

     

    This may help some people and may not help others. It may also help some people that are not listed because testing abilities are still so underdeveloped. Time will tell.

     

    They may also just be trying to come up with another big sell item for big pharma that turns out to be more toxic than just avoiding gluten altogether... as with so many current meds on the market.

     

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    There have been people who tested positive for celiac through endoscopy and biopsy (gold standard test) and tested negative for both HAD-DQ2 and 8. The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center talked about this a couple of years ago. They are aware that there are other causes that have not yet been identified.

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    Gluten destroyed my health. I don't have HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8. So for many of us with a gluten problem, this explanation is not helpful.

    This website is called celiac.com - why comment if you are not celiac?

     

    ..and it is very good news they have identified the cause. Another step forward.

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    There is a small percentage of those with celiac disease who have neither DQ2 nor 8. Search for HLA negative celiac disease to find the articles.

    From questdiagnostics.com: "Negative results for both HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 virtually exclude the diagnosis of celiac disease..." I am aware of research that shows that it is still a very slight possibility (Karell K, Louka AS, Moodie SJ, et al. HLA types in celiac disease patients not carrying the DQA1*05–DQB1*02 (DQ2) heterodimer: results from the European Genetics Cluster on Celiac Disease. Hum Immunol. 2003;64:469-477.) but this research is focused on what triggers celiac disease in the vast majority of cases.

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    Guest BareFood George

    Posted

    "...Professor Sollid and his group are investigating how antibodies against transglutaminase are formed..." Hello , overdose maybe of gluten from fortified pastries and thousands of high - gluten products that made the body to handle them as toxic substance!

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    Not exactly the whole story - why they keep missing this is beyond me

    Celiac disease existed way back when - yes , but it was extremely rare ( One in 4000)

    Reason it was linked to wheat in the late 1940s and then to gluten in the 1950s was because Norman Borlaug bioengineered modern wheat (a Tribred- 3 different plants ) right after World War II . His new wheat was pest & disease-resistant shorter stock larger bud higher-yield per acre. The seed started being used soon after that, & in increasing numbers of cases for celiac started popping up in the 1950s. The Side effect of Borlaug's new modern wheat was the gluten was different - more gluten in the grain perhaps ? - but was different than the gluten in the heirloom wheats.

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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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