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  • Diana Gitig Ph.D.
    Diana Gitig Ph.D.

    Should Celiacs Eat Oats? Depends on the Oat

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.
    Should Celiacs Eat Oats? Depends on the Oat - New study indicates that the type of oats matters for celiacs.
    Caption: New study indicates that the type of oats matters for celiacs.

    Celiac.com 03/14/2011 - It is still a matter of controversy whether or not oats are safe for people with celiac disease. The general consensus at this point seems to be that pure oats are safe for most, but not all, people with celiac. Since oats can easily be contaminated with wheat during harvest, storage, or other stages of processing, it has been stressed that the oats be certified as pure. Although the classic 33-amino acid long oligopeptide that acts as the immunogenic stimulus in gliadin had not yet been found in oats, other peptides isolated from oats do activate T-cells isolated from celiac patients. A new study performed in Spain by Isabel Comino et al. suggests that it is not that some celiac patients can’t tolerate all oats, but rather that all celiac patients can’t tolerate some oats. Their results are reported in the January 2011 issue of GUT: An International Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

    Dr. Comina and her colleagues examined nine different cultivars of oats. They exposed each of them to a sensitive monoclonal antibody generated to recognize the toxic 33-mer from gliadin, and also measured if each of the oat varieties could elicit an immune response in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from celiac patients. They wanted to see if they could correlate recognition by the monoclonal antibody to induction of a T-cell response, and found that they certainly could.



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    The nine varieties of oats segregated neatly into three groups of three varieties each: those for which the antibody had high affinity, low affinity, and no affinity. This affinity was validated by two different experimental methods, so was not an artifact of the technique chosen. When T cells from patients with celiac were exposed to extracts of the oat variety the antibody bound to strongest, they proliferated the most and released interferon-gamma, an immunostimulatory cytokine whose aberrant expression is associated with autoinflammatory disease. In contrast, the oats that didn’t react with the antibody did not elicit these immune responses. The authors note that the avenin – the storage protein in oats – from even the most immunogenic oats they saw bound to this antibody with 40-400 fold less affinity than gliadin (from gluten – the storage protein in wheat).

    This study thus leaves us with two valuable conclusions. One is that some oats are more toxic than others, regardless of their purity. And the other is that reactivity with this antibody can be correlated to toxicity, making it a potential tool for evaluating the toxic gluten content of other food.

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    A good start. Now we celiacs need a list of which oats we can try eating, and which to avoid, by brand or at least by some consumer-visible guideline. Looking forward to seeing that, sooner than later. Oats generally can be so good for people, I'd like to resume eating them.

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    This study just confirmed why I have reactions to oatmeal. The oats I purchased from a reputable store were guaranteed gluten free. I tried 2 different manufacturer's of oats and had the same gut reaction. Since I am not willing to keep trying other oat types, oats are out of my diet.

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    The science is still really new, so information about which oats are/are not safe is just not available yet.

     

    For now, the takeaway is still pretty significant -- First, that CC isn't the sole problem with oats / that some are inherently safer than others.

     

    Second, that there's a mistake in the commonly-held belief that some celiacs are just more sensitive to oats than others (even oats labeled gluten-free). This may be true, but it's also likely that some of them are eating oats that aren't gluten-free despite labeling to the contrary. Many of the antibodies used in testing/certifying are only able to recognize CC in oats, not the gluten inside some oats -- these scientists used a different, new antibody (G12) that is so far the only one proven to detect CC-gluten and inherent-gluten.

     

    This is a preliminary study, it paves the way for future studies that will identify safe oats and lead to better testing and labeling.

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    Okay, so some oats are bad and some oats are good. That's great, but what type of oats fall under what category? I guess I don't like wasting my time on something that really doesn't give me any information.

    That is pretty much what I thought. If it doesn't explain the difference in which oat is which, why bother explaining the science behind it. I'm more interested in the bottom line I guess.

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  • About Me

    Diana Gitig Ph.D.

    Diana received her B.A. in Biochemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, and then a Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Genetics from Cornell. Now she is a freelance science writer and editor in White Plains, New York.  Her son was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2006, at the age of five, and she has been keeping her family healthy by feeding them gluten free treats ever since.


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    Celiac.com 09/19/2014 - Experts have decreed that pure oats are safe for people with celiac disease(1,2,3).  The definition of this disease is based on a very specific type of injury to the intestinal wall that heals following the removal of gluten from the diet.  This intestinal damage, called villous atrophy, is caused by the interaction between the immune system and certain proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley.  Identical proteins are not found in oats (although there is also some variation between the protein groups found in wheat, rye, and barley).  Further, many newly diagnosed celiac patients have been shown to recover from their celiac symptoms while eating significant quantities of oats and their intestinal biopsies do not show signs of villous atrophy1 (Admittedly, the quantity of oats consumed by these study subjects does not rival the grain protein consumption in a regular, gluten-laden diet, but the quantity is significant).  Therefore, this food is considered safe for celiac consumption.
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    Sources:
    Storsrud S, Olsson M, Arvidsson Lenner R, Nilsson LA, Nilsson O, Kilander A.    Adult coeliac patients do tolerate large amounts of oats. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;57(1):163-9. Kilmartin C, Lynch S, Abuzakouk M, Wieser H, Feighery C.  Avenin fails to induce a Th1 response in coeliac tissue following in vitro culture. Gut. 2003 Jan;52(1):47-52. Janatuinen EK, Kemppainen TA, Julkunen RJ, Kosma VM, Maki M, Heikkinen M, Uusitupa MI.  No harm from five year ingestion of oats in coeliac disease. Gut. 2002 Mar;50(3):332-5. Teschemacher H.  Opioid receptor ligands derived from food proteins. Curr Pharm Des. 2003;9(16):1331-44. Review. Yoshikawa M, Takahashi M, Yang S. Delta opioid peptides derived from plant proteins. Curr Pharm Des. 2003;9(16):1325-30. Review. Horvath K, Graf L, Walcz E, Bodanszky H, Schuler D. Naloxone antagonises effect of alpha-gliadin on leucocyte migration in patients with coeliac disease. Lancet. 1985 Jul 27;2(8448):184-5. Zioudrou C, Streaty RA, Klee WA. Opioid peptides derived from food proteins. The exorphins. J Biol Chem. 1979 Apr 10;254(7):2446-9. Hoggan R.  Considering wheat, rye, and barley proteins as aids to carcinogens. Med Hypotheses. 1997 Sep;49(3):285-8. Fukudome S, Yoshikawa M.   Opioid peptides derived from wheat gluten: their isolation and characterization. FEBS Lett. 1992 Jan 13;296(1):107-11. Kuitunen P, Savilahti E, Verkasalo M.  Late mucosal relapse in a boy with coeliac disease and cow's milk allergy. Acta Paediatr Scand. 1986 Mar;75(2):340-2. Holmes, et. al. "Malignancy in coeliac disease - effect of a gluten free diet" Gut 1989; 30: 333-338 Holmes GK.  Coeliac disease and malignancy.Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Mar;34(3):229-37 Collin P, Pukkala E, Reunala T.  Malignancy and survival in dermatitis herpetiformis: a comparison with coeliac disease. Gut. 1996 Apr;38(4):528-30. Chartrand LJ, Russo PA, Duhaime AG, Seidman EG.  Wheat starch intolerance in patients with celiac disease. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Jun;97(6):612-8.


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